Sustainable workspace attracts attention
workspace built using Objective One investment is being used
as a national example for true sustainable development.
Mount Pleasant Eco Park, near Porthtowan, is the largest,
load bearing rammed earth building in the country and is now
being featured in specialist national magazines. Cornwall
College students are also being taken to see the units as
part of their construction courses. Rammed earth is a building
method that uses just densely compacted earth for walls and
The six units, which were built from the shell of an old
farm building, cost £415,000 of which £96,408
came from the Objective One European Agricultural Guidance
and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF). Other environmentally friendly
features include sheep's wool insulation, roof tiles
made from recycled car tyres, railway sleepers for the entrances,
a biomass boiler for heating, solar panels for hot water and
rain water harvesting system for toilet flushing.
Tim Stirrup, whose business Pioneer Environmental Building
Company built the Eco Park, said: "This was an experimental
building and without Objective One I would not have been able
to do it. I wanted to show by example that there are alternatives
to steel and concrete. If I had tried to do this ten years
ago I would have been banging my head against a wall but now
people are interested. And it is the future of building –
there is no doubt about it.
"I wanted to create workspace that was inspiring
and where people would enjoy coming to work. The easiest method
would have been to make these units timber frame but there
were no trees on site and I wanted to show how you can build
with what is around you. The earth on site was perfect for
building because when tested it turned out to have exactly
the right clay mix. It is as locally sourced as you can get.
"Basically rammed earth is like turning the earth
back into rock again. Then it was given a lime render to prevent
erosion. It is a technique that has been used through the
ages and is becoming popular again due to its low impact nature,
aesthetic qualities and its ability to store heat and create
thermal mass within the building.
"This is now the biggest load bearing rammed earth
building in the country and is regularly featured in specialist
magazines. We also have visits from Cornwall College students
on the BTEC Construction course and from the Prince's
Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership,
said: "Quality workspace is an important investment
piece for the Objective One Programme. We have encouraged
developers to explore innovative building methods and utilise
local materials and skills. Mount Pleasant helps to meet Cornwall's
need for workspace while ensuring the development is environmentally
sustainable and sympathetic to the beautiful area of Porthtowan."
Mr Stirrup started looking into sustainable construction
when building a timber frame house for his family. That house
acted as a prototype for Pioneer Environmental Building Company.
When the company outgrew its business base Mr Stirrup started
looking for a new location.
"I didn't want the company to be isolated,
I wanted to work near other craftspeople," he explained.
"This Porthtowan opportunity came up; the build
began in March 2003 and was finished 18 months later."
The 40 acres of land surrounding the units have now been
converted to organic status, certified by the Soil Association.
Previously it had been intensively farmed and Mr Stirrup had
to plant fertility-building crops. There is also a small Caravan
Phase Two of the project is to develop the educational and
recreational facilities of the site. Planning is underway
for a classroom facility built with cutting edge sustainable
materials. Mr Stirrup also plans to introduce more renewable
energy systems to provide power for the site.
Training courses on traditional and sustainable building
are planned for the spring as are further open days –
the last one attracted 800 people. "Generally people
are so concerned and aware of the environmental damage caused
that they want to find better, more sustainable ways of doing
things. So there is massive interest in what we have to offer."
Tenants at the units include the Out of Place gallery, which
stocks local art not traditionally associated with Cornwall,
GN Electrical, Westcountry Blinds and the Nude Food Co. The
sixth unit is about to become vacant. John Marshall moved
his business Monkey Puzzle from central Truro to one of the
units. The company supplies art prints and cards, canvas prints,
brochures, business cards and graphic design.
"I was worried about moving from a central position
to here but I have been very surprised," he said.
"I was based in Truro for about two years and I
worked with just over 100 artists. Since moving this has expanded
to just over 250 in about a year."
Paul Bright, of Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust which
used to be a tenant at the Eco Park, said: "Tim
Stirrup is to be congratulated for his excellent reuse of
a redundant agricultural site. It is an example to others
who may be looking for diversification opportunities. Cornwall
Sustainable Building Trust was an early tenant of Tim's
and we helped run the Down to Earth exhibition on the site,
which amply demonstrated that people are very interested in
local low impact and vernacular building methods. Mount Pleasant
Eco Park is great example of sustainable building and I am
very pleased that Objective One investment helped to make
For further information please contact Clare Morgan, Media
Relations Manager for the Objective One Partnership Office
on 01872 223439 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Objective One Partnership for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in the Mount Pleasant Ecological
Park through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee
More than £26 million from the European Agricultural
Guidance and Guarantee and European Regional Development Funds
has been approved for more than £75 million worth of
Members from Prince's Trust Team 91 at Cornwall College,
Camborne, completed their community project at the Eco Project.
Their challenge was to construct plans for an amphitheatre.
The community project was an integral part of their 12-week
personal development course in which they put something back
into the community.
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439