Tuesday, 12 July 2011

We did it! But only just....

Thanks to an outstanding effort by Mike Canham and his team the building was just about finished for the opening event. The three glazed sliding doors arrived in the nick of time (so I don't need to name and shame the supplier) and they were fitted ready for the official opening.
So much happened in the last three days apart from the delay with the doors. The light fittings chosen were not in stock so last minute alternatives had to be found (late night trawling on the Internet!) then delivered and fitted. The floor in the main room had to be sanded and oiled and a host of other individual tasks completed.
And so here we are....the finished product (bar a few minor details).
Above is one of the large oak framed sliding doors that created so much angst.

The main teaching room is a delight being half glazed creating a feel of being right in the wood. The recycled pine floor from the Foxburrow Farm barn has turned the most incredible colour after being sanded down and treated with a hard oil. It was worth all the effort to dismantle and re-use (a special thanks for the Ipswich volunteer team who de-nailed and sorted all the good timber).
Small details make a real difference such as using off-cuts of oak to make the window sills and left-over cedar for the window reveals.

The covered deck area is as useful as the main room providing a large space for gathering school groups. The outside areas are illuminated with low energy lighting which is activated by motion sensors ensuring it is only on when required.

Yesterday Lord Tollemache (above left) undertook the honours and formally opened the building in front of an invited audience of funders and donors, SWT Trustees and many other people with a special link to Bradfield Woods.

The sun shone and our guests enjoyed some hospitality and had the opportunity to see the building at first hand followed by a walk in the woods. With around 100 people this was a real test of the building and its functionality.....and it worked brilliantly.

It's hard to believe that the building work only started in March and to reach this point in just over four months has been a remarkable achievement for all involved. There are still some bits and pieces to finish but the building will be open to the public this coming weekend and we are already starting to take bookings from schools and other organisations wanting to use the centre.

I must say a final thank you to Ralph and Richard of Modece Architects. Their inspiration has given us a building we will be proud of for a very long time and one that we hope in the coming years, many thousands of visitors to Bradfield Woods will equally enjoy.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Almost there!

Just a few days now to the official opening and its going to be very tight to finish everything.
The first batch of windows are all in and look very good but we are still waiting for the three sliding doors for the main teaching room.
Now the scaffold is down the real form of the building is revealed. While as much as possible of the ground around the building was left undisturbed, small areas were cleared for drains and services. Once these areas vegetate over it will make a big difference to the setting of the building especially when some of the coppice grows up.
The oak framed windows are UK made and and very nicely made at that. Having pondered what to do to them as they have been supplied unfinished we have decided to leave them just as they are. Because of the way the building roof overhangs the walls, the windows will not be exposed to too much weather, the oak will just harden and turn a silvery colour over time.

A great internal touch has been using the same cedar cladding to make the internal doors. These are cupboard doors in the entrance area.

So its just down to the window supplier to make good on their promise to deliver the doors in time for the opening. Several missed delivery dates later we are getting quite frustrated so if they don't arrive in time I might just have to name and shame the supplier!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Car park and kitchen

Even more activity this week as the pace really picks up. Joe Davis and Kerry Vaughn (SWT West Suffolk staff) started work resurfacing the car park while the plumber started work on the kitchen and toilets.
An access area at the front of the wood adjoining the main parking area is being resurfaced with a base layer of waste stone and then dressed with 20mm gravel to create several additional spaces, while all the remaining car park area will also be surface dressed with gravel. The car park work will include the creation of a dedicated disabled parking space.

The office will include a few kitchen units and a sink.
The outside toilet will have full disabled access. The plumbing is being kept very simple with hot water being provided by 'heat on demand' electric heaters. Because the demand for hot water is likely to be quite erratic it was decided that this would be more efficient than continually heating a hot water tank ready for use.
The roofing company finished more quickly than they initially said and apart from not picking up all the little off-cuts of zinc sheeting they left all over the place, did a reasonable job. The flue for the woodstove is in although has yet to be extended to its full height. The thin section of wall between the over-lapping sections of roof has still to be clad. We cannot use the western red cedar for this area as any water running off the cedar onto the zinc would be slightly acidic and i time would eat through the zinc. Instead, larch boards will be used as these don't create the same problem and will almost perfectly match the cedar.
A small area of the floorboards that were salvaged from the barn at Foxburrow Farm have been sanded down to reveal a wonderful red colour and very attractive grain. Once the floor in the main teaching room has been given the same treatment it should look quite spectacular.

The most significant event of the last week was the delivery of the first batch of windows and doors on Friday. Had the windows been delivered late that could have thrown all the opening plans into complete chaos! All being well we should finish just in the nick of time.