Work on the Earth Lab and Innovation Hub is underway

We broke ground!

Despite the lockdown over the last couple of months, behind the hoardings exciting things have been taking shape at Earth Trust. Our contractors, Beard, started working on site in March on the first elements of the wider Gateway Programme. Creation of our new skills and learning centre, Earth Lab, is very much underway, as is the renovation of the barn to create the Innovation Hub. We are really looking forward to sharing some of the elements with you as they are created.

Earth Lab

Earth Lab is set to be a live demonstration of sustainable construction, and the unusual story really starts to take shape this week with the arrival of the first timber in the workshop. A natural alternative to steel or bricks, we have chosen ‘glulam’ beams – literally ‘glued laminate’ – to form the structural elements of the walls and roof (which will actually be a wildflower meadow – watch this space!).  Glulam is a strong and attractive material comprising wood layers, which can be customised to unusual shapes and designs. Its composite structure means it doesn’t rely on trees of a certain size, and therefore opens up more options for UK-sourced younger trees. The manufacturing process is also much less energy intensive than for steel or concrete, and the natural looking wooden material will fit well into our surroundings.

The beams will be arriving on site shortly, and in the meantime you can see a short timelapse video of the groundworks for the Earth Lab below. This follows survey work to assess the ground composition, so that we could use the minimum amount of concrete in the construction of the foundations.

Innovation Hub

The Innovation Hub is a re-imagining of the existing learning barn, which is set to become a flexible space with a welcome and orientation area for visitors alongside multi-use office spaces. We are thinking longer term and creating a space within the barn for what we hope will be a small farm shop, to sell locally sourced and produced food and other goodies. Short term, this will be used flexibly for events including art exhibitions. Work carried out so far includes installation of roof windows and internal partition walls – we will let you know more about the space as it progresses.

Supported by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal.

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