HOOKE PARK – AA School's Woodland Campus

Early history: 3000BC – 1977

Iron-age settlements

The landscape around Hooke Park is rich with evidence of Iron Age settlement – including several hillforts within a few miles.

1200AD Deer Parks created in Dorset

Recreational hunting ‘parks’ established for the land-owning aristocracy – enclosures for deer and other animals.  The woodlands would also be used for coppice and firewood.

1630 Enclosures of North Poorton Wastes

Paulet, Marquis of Winchester, made Enclosures of the North Poorton Wastes – which included what is now Hooke Park – in 1630.

1794 - 1919 Ownership changes

1794: Ownership to Duke of Cleveland and the Earl of Sandwich, whose seat is the neighbouring Mapperton Estate.

1840s: Documentary records of timber sales from Hooke Park, demonstrating that the woodland was being managed for productive foresty in the period.

1919: Sale to the Salt family, then the Unilever Pension Fund.

This map (below) shows dates from that sale, with the Hooke Park estate in green. The north-eastern part of the estate (towards Hooke village) was subsequently separated.  Note that the main entrance road and forestry tracks are all established, and that the uphill part of the estate is not yet forested.  (Thanks to Carlos Chen for finding this map).

1946 Clear felling of Hooke Park

Post-World War II, shortages of building material for reconstruction led to the felling of many of England’s woodlands to provide timber.  Almost all of Hooke Park was clear felled, including most of its ancient woods and coppices.

1949 Forestry Commission buys Hooke Park

The Forestry Commission is a government department responsible for forestry in England and Scotland.  It was set up in 1919 to increase Britain’s wood production, and is the largest landowner in the country. Post-war, it purchased land for new industrial-scale forestry – including Hooke Park.

1951-8 Replanting of Hooke Park

Hooke Park was replanted during this period by the Forestry Commission according to their planting plans.  Most of the spruce, beech, oak and other species at Hooke Park date from this period.

See the estate interactive map for more details.

1964 Frei Otto founds IL, Stuttgart

Frei Otto, the German architect and structural engineer who became instrumental in the architecture of Hooke Park, founded his Institute of Lightweight Structures at Stuttgart University in 1964.

Precedent projects include the Mannheim Multihalle, a remarkable timber gridshell:

1977 Parham College opens

John Makepeace (who subsequently establishes the college at Hooke Park) buys Parnham House, near Beaminster (about 4 miles from Hooke Park) in 1976, and opens the School for Craftsmen in Wood the following year.  The School taught furniture design, making, and management.

The Parnham era: 1982-2000

1982 Enquiry into purchase of Hooke Park by Parnham Trust

John Makepeace sees the potential of Hooke Park as an extension of the Parnham College and proposes a School for Woodland Industries, integrating furniture making and design with forestry management activities.

1982 Frei Otto submits ideas for Hooke Park

At John Makepeace’s request, Frei Otto hand-draws at set of ideas for building projects at Hooke Park.

1984 Masterplan and schematic building designs

Richard Burton leads Ahrends Burton Koralek’s work to develop a masterplan for the Hooke Park campus for the School of Woodland Industries.

1986 Prototype House completed

The Prototype House – now used as Hooke Park’s refectory – used spruce roundwood thinnings in its tension roof. More details here.


1986 Chris Sadd plants redwood trees

Chris planted Hooke’s American Redwood trees whilst working with Andy Poore, the head forester at the time.  The trees, now semi-mature, are an example of the experimental species planting at Hooke Park.

1987 Workshop foundation's laid. First students start at Hooke Park.

The students of the Parnham Trust’s new School for Woodland Industries start at Hooke Park.

1989 Workshop completed

Like the Prototype House, the Workshop used spruces thinnings for its structure – this time in a compression configuration. More here.

Architectural Association school life 2012-2013

1994 Charlie & Georgie Corry Wright start living on site

The Corry Wright family continue to live at Hooke Park: Charlie runs the workshop activities and Georgie manages the catering.

1995 Westminster Lodge completed

The Westminster Lodge dormitory is the only built building from the Cullinan masterplan.  It forms an 8 twin-bedroomed dormitory now used by visiting students. More details here.

1999 Fielden Clegg masterplan

A new masterplan, by Bath-based architects Fielden Clegg was commissioned, which was to include a new dormitory building – Park House.  The foundations for that building were laid, but the building did not continue and the Parnham operation at Hooke Park ceased.

Architectural Association 2002-

2003 Regular AA visits start

The pattern of use, of AA London student groups visiting with their tutors, continues today.

2004 AA Energy & Environmental Studies students build 'bio-climatic shell'

The canopy structure is the first 1:1 piece built by AA students at Hooke Park.

2006-9 AA Summer pavilions fabricated at Hooke Park

The AA Summer Pavilion programme ran between 2005 and 2009. The AA’s Intermediate Unit 2, led by tutors Charles Walker and Martin Self, produced at Hooke Park a student-designed pavilion that has explored the architectural potential of experimental timber construction. Each pavilion was fabricated in the workshop over a 6-week period and erected in Bedord Square for the AA end-of-year Projects Review party.

More details here.

The first pavilion, following a concept design by Simon Whittle, returned to Hooke Park and is used as a bbq/event pavilion.


2006-7 Diploma Unit develops Hooke Park masterplan proposals

Under tutorship of Andrew Freear and Elena Bartel, a group of 4th and 5th years students spend most of their year at Hooke Park and drew up propositions for the future of Hooke Park.

2007 A 'Separate Place' hanging pod

Let by student Jesse Randzio, a Separate Place is a hanging pod developed following visits to the Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy.


2008 Strategic Plan published

Authored by Andrew Freear and Elena Bartel, the 2008 Strategic Plan sets out the AA’s ambitions and plans for Hooke Park, including the premise of the Design & Make programme and the principles for a new masterplan.

2008- Shin Egashira leads Maeda Workshops at Hooke Park

John Makepeace (who subsequently establishes the college at Hooke Park) buys Parnham House, near Beaminster (about 4 miles from Hooke Park) in 1976, and opens the School for Craftsmen in Wood the following year.  The School taught furniture design, making, and management.

© 2019 Hooke Park.