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Simon Feather imagines a sustainable, timber-filled future for development

Recent grad, Simon Feather, analyzes how timber development could be the future of the UK's sustainability goals.

Can you tell us a little about yourself.

I am a recent Architecture graduate from Leeds Beckett University. My submission to the DesignClass Architects as Developers Competition was my Masters project. As I leave university and start my career as a professional, my personal aim is to ensure British timber is used as both the primary and secondary building material.

What inspired you to enter the design competition?

There is the prospect of so much more tree-planting in the coming years from schemes like the ‘Northern Forest’ in the UK, the ‘Great Green Wall of China’ and the ‘African Green Wall’. The politicians and planners who make large scale strategic decisions on land use need to generate new ideas on how woodland planting and new developments can effectively sit alongside each other. In order to successfully meet the brief of this competition I developed cartography drawings to analyse the Northern Forest and locate the most logical plots for both new woodland and new residential developments. These developments would help achieve a broader range of objectives from tree planting to help solve the climate crisis and improve our ecology. It is an innovative and replicable strategy for rethinking timber production as well as engaging with the housing shortage.

What role do you architects play in the development world?

Architects should be promoting sustainable design and construction techniques. Timber is an obvious choice for how developers can lower the embedded carbon within their new buildings. We are at a stage where many aspects the construction and forestry industry need to change and improve. Allowing architects to think more ideologically can help create new ideas which may be best placed to influence this necessary change.

Do you plan to pursue the development of your project?

I am currently engaging with Woodland Organisations in the UK to see how the strategies and methods used within the 'Re-foresting' project could be implemented with the planting strategies of the 'Northern Forest'. The proposed development is ambitious and revolutionary, as a result it will be contentious amongst other professionals. I believe that if we ensure our new forests are planted with productivity as a primary focus it would allow new timber developments to make best use of the resulting timber resource.  

Any closing thoughts?

As woodlands are affected by major tree diseases and climate change within the UK, the Forestry Commission and other woodland organisations are actively seeking to plant more diverse commercial forests to remove the risks associated with diseases and monoculture forests. Architects and designers should have input into what will be planted within commercial forests, as they will be designing with the resulting timber resource. A more collaborative approach, involving those throughout the supply chain would ensure that timber and trees are put to their most effective use to mitigate climate change and promote sustainable lifestyles.

 Simon Feather Architects as Developers DesignClass Simon Feather Architects as Developers DesignClass Simon Feather Architects as Developers DesignClass Simon Feather Architects as Developers DesignClass