- Building Type : Other building
- Construction Year : 2019
- Delivery year : 2021
- Address 1 - street : Lower Coastguard Lane TN35 4AD HASTINGS, United Kingdom
- Climate zone : [Cwb] Mild, dry winter, cool and wet summer.
- Net Floor Area : 216 m2
- Construction/refurbishment cost : 900 000 €
- Cost/m2 : 4166.67 €/m2
Primary energy need :
(Calculation method : Other )
The 'Bale House' is the new Visitor Centre in Hastings Country Park. This unique straw building is in one of the most stunning landscapes in the UK. It is the first public straw building in Hastings and will act as a community facility and cafe with interpretation that showcases Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve.
From foundations to facade, it is constructed from natural and recycled materials which are healthy, fireproof, breathable, and they lock up carbon from the atmosphere, recycling agricultural by-products. It requires next to no energy to run and due to the high levels of insulation will need no additional heating to keep people comfortable.
This sustainable and exemplary building was designed by Cave Cooperative architects and built by a consortium of straw building specialists led by Huff and Puff Construction Limited and Green & Castle Ltd.
DesignerThe Cave Cooperative Liz Crisp Architect
InvestorHastings Borough Council Murray Davidson
Owner approach of sustainability
The site is in a AONB nature reserve and close to SSSI's, it was crucial that the building responded to it's beautiful and natural setting as well as the environmental integrity such a sensitive site requires. The building also needed to respond to it's current climate and regular extreme weather conditions.
To design a new visitor centre for the stunning country park nature reserve, high on a cliff on the outskirts of Hastings town centre. The brief was to create a building to replace the existing small visitor centre that wasn't fit
for purpose at a small fixed budget. The new building needed to be as large as possible and suitable to attract new visitors to the park and fulfil HBC's aspirations for services they could provide from the new building.
The end result is a building with integrity, that sits comfortably and respectfully in its surroundings and will hopefully have a minimal impact on the environment. It will provide the client with a beautiful visitor centre showcasing natural building methods, that provides high quality space for people to relax, enjoy and learn about their local environment for many
generations to come.
In terms of sustainability and performance the design allowed for passive heat gain during the winter and sun shading to cool the building in the summer. Natural ventilation and temperature management is managed through a passive ventilation and heat recovery unit, Recycled glass aggregate in the floor acts as insulation as well as DPC. Limecrete replaces concrete and lime render and plaster are used to cover the straw walls. On the most exposed South and Westerly sides a curve was introduced and high quality locally sourced Douglas Fir was used as cladding to the straw walls. Excessive wind speeds on site meant great attention was paid by Structurehaus the engineers, to the wind loads imposed upon the building. To the South side with sea views, earth anchors and Stayloks were used to hold the cantilever roof down without interrupting the views.
If you had to do it again?
I've learnt that 'value engineering' elements out to reduce the pre tender costings doesn't mean the post tender budget will tally up. It's best to just design simply if the budget is tight and iron out any future
variations as much as possible before appointing the contract.
With natural materials timing and programme are everything, and although we built in a generous contract length, Covid had a big impact on programme. This meant time was short and risks that we wouldn't normally take were taken. Now we have have to re-do some elements, and the lesson is, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
We used a new consortium method, which we'd never used before. This didn't work as well as we'd hoped, as one of the consortium members broke the contract. In hindsight I would have made sure that if a consortium model is used that individual members are independently scrutinised prior to appointment.
The natural ventilation unit has been somewhat underwhelming and until we have full data of a year in operation the jury is still out whether this has been worth the time and expense. New technologies don't
always live up to the promises as they don't have the proven data to back them up.
Building users opinion
Due to the straw bale construction the building is wonderfully insulated in winter and remains cool in summer. This makes working and using the centre, no only comfortable but an extremely pleasant experience. Everyone that uses the centre remarks on how comfortable it feels, how light it is and how soundproof it is. The large picture and door windows bathe the interior in natural light. Overall the internal look and feel of the building is one of remarkable natural ambiance and comfort.
- 20,00 kWhpe/m2.year
- 60,00 kWhpe/m2.year
- 0,15 W.m-2.K-1
Life Cycle Analysis
Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve is a unique 345ha area of maritime cliff with a cliff top area of maritime acid grassland and heath, gill woodland (including some ancient woodland), scrub, neutral grassland, and amenity grassland. The cliffs at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve constitute the largest area of the High Weald ridge that meets the sea. This sandstone and clay coastline is uniquely positioned between the alluvial plains of Rye Bay and Pevensey Bay and the chalk of the North and South Downs.
The site is of significant importance both nationally and internationally for its biodiversity and geology and has therefore been granted both Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) status.
Land plot area
4 213,00 m2
3 450 000,00
Surface parking for the Visitor Centre includes 3 surface car parks in the immediate vicinity with an approximate space capacity of 200 vehicles
- Is wholly sustainable in terms of its materiality, use and business model.
- Is accessible to all and allows everyone to enter with dignity and choice.
- Offers education, interest and space for the community to flourish.
- Showcases the parks history, flora and fauna and unique geology.