Architect Tim Tasker is responsible for the design of the FarmED buildings, and it’s his acute awareness of the need for architecture to be sympathetic to its natural surroundings, as well as a passion for sustainability and ‘well buildings’ that’s helped to turn Ian and Celene’s vision into reality.
Though Tim now lives and works in London, he once wanted to be a farmer. He grew up on a smallholding in Yorkshire,and says that he ‘loved the idea of working on the land,’ but he was ‘always drawing’ and so he took the most natural route for him and followed his parents into a career as an architect. However, he’s remained very much in tune with the countryside, and designs buildings that provide a sense of place and are in harmony with the landscape in which they sit.
After studying architecture at Oxford Brookes and UCL, Tim worked for several firms, including WilkinsonEyre Architects, where he was involved in high profile projects such as the Thames Cable Car, Battersea Power Station and the Siemens Innovation Center in the Green Enterprise District of London. In 2016 he set up on his own, establishing TTA, and the development of Honeydale Farm/FarmED, was his first big project, working with associates Christopher Jennings-Petz and Anthony Carlisle at the concept and planning stages.
The chief inspiration for the FarmED buildings is Fibonacci, with nature's patterns reflected in the proportions of the buildings, from the height and size of the internal spaces, to the way the buildings relate to each other. Tim also drew inspiration from medieval farms which are built to offer shelter, make the most of natural light, provide ease of access and enclosure, to give a sense of community. The FarmED buildings are clustered around a traditional courtyard, with a material palette that references the local vernacular, featuring larch, Cotswold stone, and timber. Sustainability measures include solar panels to provide electricity to run much of the farming equipment, as well as a site-wide water reuse and filtration system, incorporating reed beds.
FarmED’s focus on healthy soil, livestock and people is also referenced in Tim’s interest in wellness, in particular the nine point plan of the International Well Buildings Institute. This covers everything from clean water and natural light to designing exercise into the building, ensuring a clean air flow, and paying attention to the need to see seasonal change and opportunities for nourishment, with spaces to grow plants.
‘FarmED is an incredibly well building,’ says Tim.
For instance, the use of sheepskin insulation reduces microfibers and spores, and the whole way the light works has been carefully designed by Tim. The 2m overhang on the buildings provides shade from the hot summer sun, yet allows the low winter sun to sneak underneath. The buildings also respond to the view of the valley, with the orientation designed to respond to the entrance and access road, which sweeps visitors into the courtyard, with the stunning, full view of the valley revealed when they reach the reception area.