Langley Furniture Works is fortunate enough to be situated within the North Peninnes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Not far from the workshop is Allen Banks, a gorge and ancient woodland managed for the public by The National Trust. We were approached by the National Trust team to take part in a project that would develop the gateway to the main footpath through the woodland.
"The team wanted to create a canopy that would become a natural entrance point to the area and house information about the walks. The original design was felt to be a little ‘light weight', that is to say it would work structurally, but aesthetically it needed a bit more presence. We worked with their team to develop a hexagonal shape that used heavy green-oak to support a cedar shingle roof. Designing a four sided structure is fairly straight forwards but six sides is far more complex and needs a hexagonal king post to ling the structural tie bars."
Design and joinery techniques were borrowed from almost every period of history from mediaeval to present day, from mortice and tenon peg joints, to bracing for triangulation, to modern stainless steel rodding hidden in the core for strength and longevity. Cedar shingles from Canada were selected for the roof due to their antibacterial acidic cellular structure that provide 50 to 60 years of life as opposed to 20 in less hard wearing timbers. The structure was made and constructed piece by piece in the workshop over 8 weeks before being taken down and reassembled on site.
"Large specialist projects like this can be broken down into key components. Firstly there is the design and making sure that structure and aesthetic are working together. Then timber selection - going to the saw-mill to oversee the timber used and way that it is cut is suitable for the job, in this case placing emphasis on strength of grain. We then use tried and tested joinery techniques that the team are working with day in day out. There is finally a significant need for sophisticated three dimensional visualisation to bring everything together. For us this is not a digital skill but more an instinctive sense of understanding how components relate to each other and that only really develops with steady work over a fair number of years. Of course computers do have their place but these constructional spatial skills are becoming less common and it's important that Langely Furniture Works plays a part in keeping them alive."
The canopy was installed in summer 2012 and will slowly change colour as the oak weathers to a silvery finish with the changing seasons.