Vale Head Farm Stourbridge

Ruskin Mill Trust is an education trust whose teaching focuses on practical skills education. The teaching that occurs at Vale Head Farm is driven by the idea that students can make and produce objects in the landscape from which they have collected or grown the raw materials.

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Archio was commissioned to design a goat dairy and cheese making facility for the farm, as the first stage in a larger site-wide masterplan.

The architecture aims to draw on the strong relationship between the physicality of the site and the way in which it is used. The structure of the building, using trees felled on the site, creates a lighting and material effect that is atmospherically similar to the surrounding forests. Within the local vernacular buildings are often embedded in the soft sandstone - an example of this being the rock houses pictured. We were interested to draw on this unusual vernacular in our proposals, and the building is therefore partially sunk into the slope of the hill.

The masterplan explored the daily and seasonal rhythms, key routes and environmental microclimates, to suggest new interventions that would help resolve the existing disparate settlement of buildings.