Environmental Charity, Earth Trust, Opts For Western Red Cedar Shingles for New Education and Skills Centre

Client Location
Earth Trust Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Waldun Premium No.1 Grade Western Red Cedar Shingles
Client Location Product
Earth Trust Abingdon, Oxfordshire Waldun Premium No.1 Grade Western Red Cedar Shingles

Silva Timber was delighted to be specified for a recent sustainable building project for Earth Trust, an environmental learning charity whose aim is to champion green spaces for all.

With 40 years’ experience in caring for and inspiring others with green spaces, Earth Trust’s vision is a society where nature and people thrive in balance, where people have a deep understanding of their environment and their role in caring for it. With five hundred hectares of farmland, woodland, and wetland on the bank of the River Thames, Earth Trust’s wildlife-rich green spaces welcome over 200,000 visits each year. Their passion for quality and accessible green spaces is shared with and through events and engagement activities, award-winning volunteers, and a thriving young people’s environmental education project.

In recent years Earth Trust has been working creatively to find new ways to welcome and excite people about their amazing environment, whilst protecting the landscape heritage. During 2020 they embarked on their most ambitious project to date – the Gateway Programme – a plan to improve facilities for visitors at the Earth Trust centre, extend educational opportunities, and inspire debate and action about how we enjoy and protect our green spaces into the future.

A key part of that transformation was the creation of a new education and skills centre, Earth Lab, to provide a stimulating, interactive and inspirational learning space. Earth Lab’s vision was for ‘living’ classrooms, with learning opportunities built into the fabric of the building, providing hands-on immersive experiences of ecosystems that fully engage learners with the environment around them.

Designed in sympathy with the surrounding landscape, the intention was to augment the natural beauty of the stunning setting at the foot of the iconic Wittenham Clumps and provide a seamless flow from indoor to outdoor learning areas.

Through the design and construction of Earth Lab, Earth Trust aimed to apply the same care and philosophy as they do to managing green spaces. The new eco building was to become a living demonstration of sustainability, incorporating natural and carbon-sequestering building materials, a wildflower roof and water management system.

Specifying Silva’s Waldun Premium Western Red Cedar Shingles for a large part of the Earth Lab building, Agile Property, the Architects leading the project, commented, “Overall we love the look of shingles which manage to feel both contemporary and traditional at the same time and create an elegant, patterned finish to the building, which weathers nicely over time.”

Not only do Western Red Cedar shingles have a beautiful natural appearance, but their rich warm colour tones blend seamlessly with the natural environment. What’s more, Western Red Cedar shingles are renewable; sustainable; their manufacture produces low emissions and no wastage; they contribute to providing energy-efficient buildings, and they are recyclable. This makes them a truly 'green' building material.

Jayne Manley, Earth Trust’s CEO, commented, “Our challenge was to build an Earth Lab that was inspirational for visitors and students and highly relevant and influential in design and construction. This living laboratory has been achieved with design and construction industry partners who have blended their skills and expertise with ours. Earth Lab is the result, a vision into the future, where buildings meet sustainability and carbon, nature and people benefit.”

The success of the Earth Lab building has been widely recognised, scooping a number of awards and commendations, including “Most Innovative and Sustainable Initiative” at the 2021 OxPropFest awards.


Photography by - Ben Tynegate

Architect - Agile Property & Homes Limited

Construction - Beard Construction

About the Author

Michael Allen

Senior Sales

Michael works on projects from end to end in consultation with architects, designers and clients at inception through to contractors and installers on site. Being so close to projects over a long period of time maintains continuity for the client and also gives Michael a variety of challenges that his many years’ experience in the industry requires!