The Hut – Chapleton
The Hut is a community building in the heart of Liddell Park in the nascent Aberdeenshire town of Chapelton. The growing community needed a flexible space for day-to-day meetings, and focal point for larger events. Combined with Liddell Park the community facilities meet the existing and growing needs of the residents of Chapelton. An external, covered exhibition window affords an opportunity to explain the process and proposals – past, present and future – for Chapelton, showing a model, presentation boards and video. This enables the developers or the CCIC to keep residents and visitors informed on latest news.
Chapelton is a fast-growing community with, at present, three hundred residents. Designed and built out through comprehensive, early and continuous engagement, it is providing new homes in the Portlethen – Stonehaven corridor within the Aberdeen City and Shire Structure Plan. By 2030, it aims to provide 4,045 homes in walkable, liveable communities.
The masterplan began in 2010 with a public charrette – a dynamic engagement and design process providing realtime feedback loops between design, transport and engineering professionals, local communities and residents with a deep understanding of the place, and public authorities. This engaged over five thousand local residents, professionals and Scottish national agencies, whose insight, understanding and interests shaped critical elements of both the masterplan and the architecture. The sense of connection to nearby towns and villages provided a strong, clear desire for the new development to be fitting, appropriate and congruous. To meet this desire and ensure a local vernacular, the masterplan and design code draw closely on adjacent historic communities including Stonehaven and Banchory. The long term development is guided by a Pattern Book and a Design Code which incorporate the results of this process and seek to protect the desired architectural styles whilst providing sufficient flexibility to meet the shifting demands and possibilities of the twentyfirst century society.
The design is working towards a sustainable, pedestrian and cycle-friendly community set around seven neighbourhoods. In response to locally-felt and often strongly worded disappointment at mid-twentieth century development and late-century suburban growth, the masterplan is designed to provide schools, commercial and retail space closely entwined the homes and living, green space. Green space comprises 40% of the masterplan, including Liddell Park in which The Hut is set.
Guided by the Design Code and Pattern Book, the park and building design are influenced by a local exemplar, Footdee. ‘Fittie’ is a planned, listed fishing village at Aberdeen harbour, intimately set around a communal central green with a community hall and simple, timber fisherman’s sheds.
The design for Liddell Park and The Hut has preserved these elements to provide a modest flexible community space in the heart of the first Chapelton neighbourhood, Cairnhill. The triangular park is surrounded by residential units and retirement village and, like Fittie, provides a focal point for residents to commune and enjoy. Paths from all three corners provide direct, accessible (for all) passage to the central seating area. The central play area and grassed lawns are bounded by a traditional stane wall, with standing stone gate posts at the eastern entrance and estate fencing flanked by beech hedging to provide a sheltered boundary. Larger lime and field maple trees are planted around the edge of the park to bring a sense of enclosure, whilst ornamental cherry trees add colour in the centre. Rhododendrons adjacent to The Hut, likewise, bring contrast. The organic flexible toddler play area is populated with boulders from the site for children to play on.
The growing community at Chapelton, working alongside the Community Interest Company and the Elsick Development Company, needed a small space for day to day meetings, and a focal point for larger community events, including the annual charity bike ride and 10K fun run. The brief sought a meeting space, an office (for the CCIC) with plenty of file storage above, as well as kitchen space and toilet facilities. A local source of water, power, kitchen and accessible toilets, The Hut is also designed with a west-facing glass screen and adjacent level grass area to enable the community to easily extend the building with temporary structures for larger events.
An external, covered exhibition window affords an opportunity to explain the process and proposals – past, present and future – for Chapelton, showing a model, presentation boards and video. This enables the developers or the CCIC to keep residents and visitors informed on latest news.
Two further key factors that influenced the design were the long-term sustainability (including maintenance and upkeep costs) of the building, and the speed of construction. An air source heat pump accordingly provides the main source of (underfloor) heating, whilst use of a pre-fabricated structure enabled construction to be completed in three months.
Whilst adhering closely to the Design Code and material palette, and drawing respectfully upon the historical guide of Fittie with utilitarian external cladding of blackened timber and a hardy zinc roof, The Hut is a contemporary design providing a node of contrast and interest amongst the more traditional houses around it. The exhibition ‘cut out’ is finished in contrasting grey stained timber, whilst internal finishes have kept appropriately simple, with high ceilings in the main meeting room and a polished concrete floor.