Made in Oakfield

Matt + Fiona - Matthew Springett, Fiona MacDonald, Hull, 2017


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

North Elevation 

French + Tye (website)     Download Original

  • North Elevation    
  • Model making workshop with the students    
  • Student fixing the deck structure    
  • Students & Ste laying the decking    
  • Installing the pivoting doors    
  • First coat of rubber paint    
  • Volunteers cladding the roof    
  • The Mayor of Hull with the Students, Teachers & Volunteer Team    
  • South Elevation, doors closed    
  • Interior - acrylic roof lights, door mechanisms (pulleys & cleats)      
  • Pivoting doors open to create a canopy    
  • South Elevation, doors open    
  • Portobello Street Allotments, Hull    
  • The lookout tower    
  • Dusk on the allotment    
  • East elevation at sunset    
  • Made in Oakfield - structure + cladding    
  • 174-100 Site Diagram    
  • 174-210 Setting out    
  • 174-211 Deck    
  • 174-212 Ground Floor Plan    
  • 174-310 Section AA + BB    
  • 174-311 Section AA + BB Details    
  • 174-410 Front Structural Elevation    
  • 174-411 Rear Structural Elevation    
  • 174-412 Side Structural Elevations    
  • Visualisation    
  • Proposed + Built comparison    
  • The students    
  • Design progression    
  • 174-610 Pivot Door Detail    
  • 170515 - 174-702 Bolt-on Winter Window Detail    

Self-build, timber learning space designed and built by 11-16 year olds in Hull as part of City of Culture 2017.

How many young people look around them and have a say in what they see?

Made in Oakfield, in partnership with Hull City of Culture 2017, was programmed, designed and built by a group of teenagers from Oakfield School, a residential school for young people facing emotional and behavioural challenges. Working with Matt+Fiona the project accelerated from the seed of an idea to a completed building within 3 months.

The council had given the school a long term lease of an allotment to give the students a space of their own for extra-curricular activities. However there was no much-needed poor weather provision.

At the outset, the group identified what they wanted the space to be: a den and social space as well as an outdoor classroom. The design then developed through model making workshops with Matt+Fiona. This led to specific requirements such as: to have mechanical, moving elements and a look out; to be bold & contemporary in design; and to address unpredictable weather and flooding on the site. The Matt+Fiona team then took these elements to form a feasible, final design that could be constructed by the pupils and volunteers in just one week.

The structure is a lightweight timber frame supported on a suspended deck. Born directly from the students’ ideas, the southern wall is designed with large, pivoting, counter-weighted doors that lock-down securely at night and open up in good weather to provide an extended canopy with deck below. The envelope is made of ply with a unique rubber painted skin. This not only creates a vibrant outer face and strong identity, but also ensured a quick, simple application to form a waterproof shell.

Self-build was integral to the project’s success and legacy. Ambitious education projects like this empower young people to realise they can not only be involved in the decision-making, but can literally be involved in transforming their local area. This is particularly important for young people at a school such as Oakfield who have not had the easiest start in life. It stands as a reminder that their perspective on the world is valued and that they can achieve brilliant things.


  • Begun: Apr 2017
  • Completed: Apr 2017
  • Floor area: 17m2
  • Sectors: Arts and culture, Education
  • Total cost: £21,805
  • Funding: Grant (Hull City of Culture 2017)
  • Tender date: Jan 2017
  • Procurement: None (direct grant)
  • Address: Oakfield School Allotment , Portobello Street Allotments, Portobello Street, Hull, HU9 5XZ, United Kingdom