Billhook Nook Theatre
Opposite the new KBS construction site, off Parkwood road in the forest newly named 'Billhook Nook', some architecture students have built a beautiful outdoor theatre. Having cut slices of wood to be used as seats, these slices surround a stage, which is just below a canopy of intertwined wood.
The theatre was built by a team of students, led by Edward Powe, including Benjamin Nourse, Aut Angpanitcharoen, Luisa Pires, Andrew Warwick and Prinka Anandawardhani Choesin, all studying architecture in their second year. The project was also supported by Ian Bride, senior lecturer in biodiversity managment.
The canopy structure was secured to the surrounding trees, supported using chains. To do this, the team had to ask some caving students to climb these trees and tie the chains. This design draws the viewer's eye not only to the stage, but to the canopy resembling a bird's nest above.
The work of natural artist Andy Goldsworthy and his technique of 'ordering' nature, using materials found on the site, is what influenced the project.
We asked Edward Powe some questions about the project:
Why did you decide to do this project?
The project was intended to allow us to translate theoretical design skills into practical built designs. As well as a way to develop skill such as team leadership, team working and communication.
How long did it take you to put it together?
The construction lasted about 3 weeks, but it could have been much faster had we not been so good at procrastinating, and had there not been a campus bar so close to the site.
Now there is a beautiful outdoor theatre right on campus which will soon be available as a bookable education space. Edward told us what the students got out of this learning experience.
This project has opened our eyes to the fact that in order to create great spaces and architecture, you do not need to adhere to modern building conventions and typologies. Instead, by using the materials which you find on site to inform the character of the design, the space can become far more exciting both to build and to experience.
During the theatre's opening, the students gave Ian Bride a special gift to say thanks. Luisa Pires created a bottle holder made from one of the stumps from the site and gave it to Ian along with a bottle of port. They also gave him a bag containing the pine shaving collected when the stump was carved, which gave off an amazing smell!