Woodland Eco-Tourist Cabins

Woodland Eco-Tourist Cabins

Turner & Hoskins Architects had previously undertaken the conversion of a Dairy (https://www.turnerandhoskins.co.uk/portfolio/the-old-dairy/) for our Clients, before they moved to a new home in Alfriston.

Located in Alfriston close to the South Downs Way, the proposal seeks to provide accommodation for those wishing to visit the South Downs National Park.  The Eco-Tourist Cabins are designed to have minimal impact upon the land where they are located, and to use materials sympathetic to the surrounding landscape.  The use of western red cedar timber cladding which will weather and silver with age will blend in with the surrounding trees, whilst the roof colour was chosen to be muted, and blend with the tree canopy throughout the seasons.

Within walking distance of the South Downs and Cuckmere, the cabins can be accessed on foot as part of the South Downs Walk, or via bicycle.  There is provision for parking, and the charging of electric vehicles.

Timber was sourced from a mill within 15 miles of the site, and all site personnel constructing the cabins also lived within 15 miles of the site.

Given the sensitive location, it was important to ensure that the cabins respected the character of the South Downs National Park, whilst supporting tourism.  Ensuring the cabins do not contribute to potential light pollution and that skies remain dark was a significant consideration.  So to was how the cabins sit on the landscape, and the use of minimal concrete pad foundations with the cabins placed on staddle stones ensured a light touch whilst also echoing traditional utilitarian agricultural buildings.  Paths are formed in bark, and external path lights face downwards and are controlled with timer switches ensuring they are only used for the shortest time.  Constructed with oak frames, the cabins are well insulated, but provided with wood-burning stoves, utilising wood from the site; there is minimal heating requirement due to the construction.  And to help maintain dark skies, special glass was used to reduce light transmission

The cabins were completed in early 2020, and despite the global events, have allowed and facilitated holidays within the National Park – albeit adhering to strict guidelines.

The two cabins each have a lounge with kitchenette, shower room, and a mezzanine bedroom.  The lounge opens up to views of the woodland, whilst the tall gable windows provide direct connection with the tree canopy.

The owners have improved the biodiversity of the site, planting natural species of hedging and trees, creating habitats for wildlife, including a hedgerow specifically for birds, and have protected the nearby badger sets; they have planted woodland seeds and flowers which has attracted butterflies and bees, and 20 new trees to help since the reduction in the area of Ash dieback and Dutch Elm disease.  New bat and bird boxes have also been installed.  The orchard provides an opportunity for harvesting apples.

2021 updated: Planning Permission granted for an additional utility cabin, 3 shepherds huts (each accommodating 2 people), and a tree tent.