News. Building for the Future

1st of February, 2022

A talented natural builder has turned her hand to a range of traditional building skills to help design and construct a new outdoor classroom at Dumfries House estate in Ayrshire.

The Prince’s Foundation Building Craft Programme runs primarily at Dumfries House, and it is as part of this course that Eleanor Wray has exercised her skills to help create a new sheltered educational facility.

“It has been quite satisfying to go from grafting in the workshop on elements of the structure to seeing it go up,” said Eleanor, whose specialisms include timberframing and strawbale building. “I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to practice earthbuilding, which will form the three walls of the classroom. I appreciate earthbuilding for ecological reasons: it’s healthier for the planet and represents a connection between the land and a building made to last.”

The Building Craft Programme supports those working in the construction sector to push their skills to the next level and continue on their journey to becoming the next generation of master craftspeople. Eleanor’s participation in the programme has been generously funded by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

As part of a team of 12 students from all over the UK, Eleanor has worked on constructing an Outdoor Classroom on Dumfries House estate, the Live Build element of their eight-month programme. The classroom, located over the Back Burn from The Morphy Richards Engineering Centre, home to our STEM programmes for school pupils, will provide a beautiful, sheltered learning environment for pupils and students on a range of The Prince’s Foundation’s courses. It is set for completion in the coming weeks and will stand as a testament to the value and endurance of traditional building craft.

For 28-year-old Eleanor, the Live Build followed on from The Prince’s Foundation’s Summer School, which aims to shed light on the value of craft in its traditional form.

“I find it essential in this time of environmental awareness and the continual rise in 'new builds' that we continue preserving the work of the tradespeople that spent hundreds of years working and learning directly from nature to create structures that still serve us today. If we are to have any hope of creating a secure and sustainable future for the next generations, then it is looking to the past, respecting and maintaining what has come before, so we can be informed in the future, and build for those who have yet to come.

“I want to learn how to become someone who embodies their trade as a way to connect to myself and other people, as well as nature and the wider world. I want to create buildings that really serve a purpose and have meaning and intention, and learn to repair buildings that were built with that same spirit.”

“Over the weeks of living at Dumfries House, working and walking the estate, I've come to feel that it is a genuinely good place. And by that I mean that it is the kind of place that calls good people to it, where people come to join in the beauty and the spirit of the place in whichever way it gathers them. I'm really honoured to have been invited here to participate in a programme like this. It's wonderful to be able to contribute to a place where there is so much love and dedication.”

Amy Eastwood, Head of Grants at HES, said: “We are pleased to support the next generation of heritage craftspeople through our funding to the Prince’s Foundation for a place on the Building Craft Programme. We look forward to seeing the work that Eleanor and the other students have carried out to build the Outdoor Classroom which, as well as being utilised by future pupils, will showcase the invaluable skills which the students have developed as part of the programme.”

For more information on the Building Craft Programme visit here.