MArch Sustainable Architecture Students 2018 Self-Build Project (Centre for Alternative Technology), Machynlleth, 2018


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Georgina Windley     Download Original

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Design and build for an outdoor classroom.

The brief required the design and build of an outdoor classroom for up to fifteen people to occupy at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) on an empty site adjacent to the WISE building.

In response to the open nature of the site and brief, we designed a pavilion with the aim of encouraging students to converse, observe, learn and reflect on nature and sustainability. The elements – sky, earth, wind, water, fire and soil – are tangible. Sk-Eye connects the visitor with the sky and rain, the charred timber cladding drapes around the structure, emanating its scent through the space.

The form of the structure is influenced by the circular form of the Welsh roundhouse and is modernised into a timber hexagonal volume which tapers to create the oculus. Two doors welcome visitors off the trail and into the structure. Within an installation consists of the documentation of memories of people visiting and living at CAT. Cast in resin and wax, these are positioned as a chandelier capturing sunlight and rainwater, celebrating the infamous Welsh weather.

Sk-Eye is elegant and simple, the primary structure is constructed of larch, which was sourced within two miles of the site, and left untreated. The timber cladding was salvaged and reclaimed from the site, to evoke memories of components which once had another life.

The members are treated using the ancient Japanese method for charring timber, the Shou Sugi Ban. The warm larch structure contrasts with the black charred timber. The structure was constructed in a week by a team of 5 MArch Sustainable Architecture students, forming a place for the exchange of knowledge, memory, people, place and architecture set within nature.


  • Begun: Jul 2018
  • Completed: Jul 2018
  • Floor area: 18m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £729
  • Procurement: Design and Build
  • Address: Centre for Alternative Technology, Llwyngwern Quarry, Pantperthog, Machynlleth, SY20 9AZ, United Kingdom