Pioneering the Potential 2021 - A Fourth Door Research* event

Flimwell Park - Photo Roland De Villiers/ShootLab

Pioneering the Potential 2021 – a Micro-symposium – hosted by Fourth Door Research

Friday September 10th 2021 – 6pm to 9.30pm

A Wood Plus evening, at the Studio Hardie workshop, Unit 4, Phoenix Works, Lewes, BN7 2PE, East Sussex, map here.

Booking via Eventbrite here.

An evening of presentations, exhibition, demonstrations materials and information exchange advancing Sussex's pioneering natural building materials role and potential.

Ekkharthof Community Centre – Photo Lukas Imhof Arkitekter

Further - In-depth information and context

This evening is about the new chapter in regional timber materials, construction, and architecture currently unfolding in Sussex and the South-East.

Driven by timber and natural materials core role in decarbonising building materials carbon and energy footprints the construction sector is undergoing a timber and natural 'Bio-based' building materials revolution. And it is coming to Lewes. Human Nature, the eco-developer of the Phoenix site, has committed to building as much of the project out of timber and other natural materials as possible.

Pioneering the Potential 2021 will showcase building and research projects currently happening in Sussex and the South-East, all of which highlight the potential of locally sourced timber in the built environment at a time of renewed interest in forest-based solutions to Climate Change at both the political and public levels. With the South-East the most wooded part of England, the evening will throw a spotlight on the prospects for growing a regional Forest Circular Economy, highlighting projects which build on pioneering Sussex timber initiatives like the Flimwell Woodland Enterprise Centre and InWood Developments.

Speakers will highlight recently completed and ongoing buildings, experiments, and research into local tree species, as well as more effective zero carbon options to burning low-grade roadside and felled ash die back. To underscore the broader potential the evening includes an international dimension: a Swiss engineered ash wood project.

This second Pioneering the Potential Wood Plus Day continues Fourth Door's events highlighting how amidst the accelerating groundswell of 21st century timber projects, research and momentum happening across the continent, the timber revolution is also happening right here in Sussex.

The success of the first Pioneering the Potential event in July 2019 combined with the interest in an annual Wood and Natural Materials event in Lewes, has led to developing this second Wood+ evening.

Projects and Speakers

Flimwell Park – Photo Roland De Villiers/ShootLab

Flimwell Park

Speakers - Steve Johnson (The Architecture Ensemble) and Chris 'O Callaghan (Flimwell Park)

Flimwell Park is an ambitious mixed-use centre which introduces a second major timber hub to the small village of Flimwell, after the pioneering Woodland Enterprise Centre. The extensive privately led development consists of eight 'artisan workshops', a gallery/café restaurant, student chalets for educational and training, three private homes and a 'focal building,' a workshop to be used by the London Bartlett School of Architecture faculty and students on wood and forest-based projects.

The project uses a mix of locally and regionally sourced timber - including Douglas fir and larch sourced from Southern England - and imported Estonian glulam timber and SIP cassette panels.

HomeGrown House research’s XR beam developed using Sweet Chestnut

HomeGrown House + the HGH exhibition

Speakers: George Fereday (London Metropolitan University) and Nick Meech (Independent Maker)

With a focus on Sweet Chestnut, the HomeGrown House (HGH) research project investigated the use of locally sourced, small-diameter round wood in construction in the South East. The research aimed to develop, assemble, and structurally test a demonstrator 'kit of parts' for constructing small scale buildings. Components have been designed for disassembly and milled from a range of small, medium, and large diameter coppiced thinnings to fold into woodland management practices in the region.

The research project was led by the Centre for Creative Arts, Culture and Engagement, London Metropolitan University, in partnership with design and maker Nick Meech, Birling Estate, and Grown In Britain.

The HomeGrown House prototypes will be exhibited through the evening.

Foxwood Forest Cruck Frame structure

Foxwood Forestry's Cruck Frame Barn – a barn built from local thinnings

Speaker - John Russell (to be confirmed)

The cruck frame barn is currently being built in Foxwood Forest, near Framfield, owned and run by forester David Saunders and art educationalist Penny Jones.

The hybrid cruck frame and sling brace design is an exercise in making use of otherwise unusable timber. The structure is comprised of 'swept' (curved) larch trees, which had been tipped over by the 1987 storm but have since begun growing vertically again. Although they cannot be used or milled commercially, by shaving the edges the thinning's make effective cruck 'blades' and sling braces.

The barn is 12m x 6m 3-bay barn, designed as a forestry building so after approval Two of the three bays are cruck frames, the remaining two cross frames are sling braces, to support a mezzanine floor in Bay 3. Framing timbers were felled and processed on site at Framfield, with frame manufacture completed at John Russell's Lewes workshop before being returned in numbered 'kit-form' for assembly using chestnut pegs over a midsummer weekend in June. Cladding and Nordic-style vertical plank roof using Douglas Fir from Cowdray Estate in West Sussex is currently being added.

Diseased and felled ash tree trunks

New uses for roadside wood and ash dieback - Lantern

Speaker – Amy Hammond – (Lantern co-founder)

At present nearly all roadside wood across the South-East, including diseased ash wood, is transported for burning at an energy heating plant in Sandwich, Kent. But with carbon footprint questions around biomass and wood burning, the spotlight is increasingly returning to longer term ways of using these low-grade woods. Lantern are a specialist sustainability consultancy with particular experience in roadside and urban tree re-use, sustainable wood supply chains and establishing re-use networks. They have worked with international companies, local authorities and the Forestry Commission, helping establish re-use of urban and other woodland resources through connecting the relevant groups and developing regional supply chain networks.

Projects include re-use of urban trees at Lendlease's Elephant Park site, developing networks to help B&Q support local woodlands, London trees inventory report for the Forestry Commission, and supporting Bromley Borough Council woodland supply chains strategy.

Ekkharthof Community Centre – Photo Lucas Peters

Ekkharthof Community Centre, Switzerland

Speaker - Lukas Imhof (Lukas Imhof Arkitekter)

The Ekkharthof Community Centre is a recent timber architecture project in Northern Switzerland showcasing engineered ash hardwood. Designed by Lukas Imhof Arkitekter, the engineered ash glulam provides the structural skeleton of the building. A major recent Swiss research programme focusing on beech, ash, chestnut and other hardwoods has resulted in the commercial development of both engineered beech and engineered ash glulam materials and reflects significant research into hardwoods as construction materials across many parts of central Europe. Imhof also designed furniture from ash for the community centre.

Lukas Imhof will present a live tour of his Ekkharthof Community Centre project via ZOOM.

Ekkharthof Community Centre is featured in the new Unstructured Annular edition.

Annular, Fourth Door's wood culture and timber website, is also to be relaunched during the evening.


The Bio-Base exhibition – There will also be another opportunity to view The Bio-Base, an exhibition first shown at the 2014 Make Lewes Festival. Including Laeso Islands Seaweed House (Vand Kunsten) unique seaweed panels and other natural building materials, technologies, products, and projects.

*Pioneering the Potential 2021 is in association with MakingLewes.

For further information please contact Fourth Door:
07884 006413