Doug’s Den, Greatham, Hampshire, UK
The hut is a shelter and meeting space, for community agricultural workers and an occasional nature based classroom, built by the community for the community
The L’Abri Fellowship is a Christian charity that provides a safe space for people of all paths and backgrounds to explore their unanswered questions around the Christian faith. The L’Abri community wants to strength its bonds with the local village to be able to serve them better.
To facilitate such interactions, L’Abri wanted to create an outdoor space that stands as a neutral ground welcoming any and all people to use as a space of meeting, retreat, reflection and learning.
Doug, an active member of the L’Abri Fellowship, had a vision for the wooded area and began to curate the space and develop prototypes of structures to be built. Sadly, Doug died in July 2018, but his legacy, now known as Doug’s Den, lives on in the this wooded copse.
The Design of the Roundhut was directly inspired by a smaller willow dome constructed by Doug himself and acts as a memorial for him. The circular nature of a roundhut feeds into the objective of providing a neutral space, with a circle having only one ‘side’.
The structure itself is made from old and dying ash, felled on site to clear the woodland for new trees to grow around the roundhut. This rejuvenating process and other bush and wood crafts were showcased an taught through workshops organised by SAWA for L’Abri and the local community of Greatham.
The project created a place of social support during difficult times in the lockdown, and is still fostering positive experiences and connections with nature thanks to the continued support of the local community.
The Roundhut has become a space for teaching and learning, having already hosted a series of natural building and permaculture workshops for all ages.
The field adjacent to the wooded site of the roundhut has also become a space for new life, learning and abundant transformation. A re-wilding project has begun to develop the monoculture straw field into a food forest, welcoming people and wildlife alike.
A pond was dug to attract new water-loving wildlife to the field. A series of food forest ‘guilds’ were then formed around the pond.
Thanks to the Woodland Trust Grant, we were able to do some tree-planting along the edge of the church grounds, increasing the carbon sequestration power of the land.
There is an expansive positive impact of the project for all parties, from empowering local people and growing the understanding of gardening and natural systems, to increasing biodiversity and creating a healthy ecosystem that is soaking up carbon. We hope that this project continues to serve the community and bring abundance and joy to all that it touches.