Hooke Park is the Architectural Association’s woodland site in Dorset, south west England. The 150 hectare working forest is owned and operated by the AA and contains a growing educational facility for design, workshop, construction and landscape-focussed activities. It is used by visiting groups of London-based students, the Hooke Park-based MArch Design & Make programme, and for short courses during the academic breaks. Details of these programmes are described here.
The forest was historically a deer-hunting enclosure and is designated as Ancient Woodland. It forms part of Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is sited within an active farming landscape close to the market towns of Beaminster and Bridport and a few miles inland from the Jurassic Coast – a UNESCO world heritage site. This historic rural landscape context provides a unique alternative to the conventional urban focus of city-based architecture schools. West Dorset is renowned for is rich craft and making traditions, food and rural cultures.
The woodland is a mixture of broadleaved and conifer species that provide the prime source of timber for students’ construction activities. This ethical premise, of using the immediate material resource for building, was established in the 1980s in the three original campus buildings for the Parnham furniture college designed by architects ABK, Frei Otto and Edward Cullinan, and engineers Buro Happold. Following exchange of ownership to the AA in 2002, the campus development has continued with new workshop and accommodation facilities being designed and built by students of the AA’s Design & Make programme. Details of these projects and the phased masterplan are here.
The Hooke Park woodland is open to the public through its rights-of-way. Contact information and details for visiting students are available here.