Holton Lee Centre for Disability in the Arts

Holton Lee Centre for Disability in the Arts

Tony Fretton Architects
Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom
Project Year
Care Homes

Cultural Centres
Hélène Binet

Holton Lee Centre for Disability in the Arts

Tony Fretton Architects as Architects

Faith House: Holton Lee Trust provides therapies for people with physical and emotional disabilities in which they engage in the arts, spiritual enquiry and experience of the natural environment. These activities take place in buildings and natural settings throughout the extensive grounds of the Holton Lee Estate. In Faith House the Trust required a new central building for meetings and exhibitions that also provided a room for quiet contemplation at any time of day or night, and which was a work of art in itself, symbolising the relationships between humans and and the natural world.

The building is positioned at the end of the long road leading into the estate, on a slight hill in the garden of the original Farm House, where the sky and trees can be seen through and around it, and where it looks out over open fields behind. Sustainable construction-timber framing insulated with recycled newspapers, a green roof and unpainted timber cladding, is made evident in the facades which each have a different composition in relation to their surroundings.

An open porch in the façade facing the road provides a place to enter and wait out of the rain. A discrete door in its boarded interior leads to the room for quiet contemplation, where a circle of cut trees taken from the forest in Holton Lee stands in a dark silver interior. A more evident door opens into the entrance lobby in the central bay of the façade, with a window of undivided sheet of glass that looks back to the garden and road through which visitors came. Beyond the lobby is the large room for meetings and exhibitions, which opens out to the fields to place human activity in a context of other life forms and changing natural events.

Artists’ Studios: The Artists’ Studios were converted from a simple agricultural building situated some distance from Faith House, next to an open barn that is used for farm storage and occasionally for exhibitions. Four studios were laid out along the length of the building, and a new artist’s common room added, constructed from timber, all connected by a covered exterior colonnade. Studios are lit from above through new rooflights while the common room has a long horizontal window overlooking the fields. The existing exterior brickwork was thinly over-painted, to keep its original qualities while differentiating it from the surrounding buildings. The shape and forms of the building contrast with the extreme openness and utility of the barn.

Awards for Faith House: The Guardian Best British Building of the Year Award 2003, ACE/RIBA Award for Religious Architecture, 2003

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