Case study

Outside: Sustainable Rural Development

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In the pursuit of sustainable rural development, this article explores the transformative impact of galvanized steel. From revitalizing landscapes to fostering community empowerment, it delves into the innovative practices shaping sustainable and galvanized rural development. Discover the fusion of environmental consciousness, local support, and inclusive wellbeing, all contributing to the evolution of vibrant, eco-friendly rural communities.

The building is part of a rural community development in South Devon which looks to add to the area’s social and economic life. It sits amongst a two-acre plot which has space for skateboarding, small-scale farming, and play areas, hosting a cafe, event space, ceramics studio and surfboard shaping workshop. Sited in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where near-barren arable monocultures are often preferred over mixed use regenerative practices, the project serves as a case study for new forms of hyperlocal, sustainable rural development.

Galvanized Rural Development and Local Supply Chains

Derived from an existing dilapidated structure, it was built by a local agricultural construction company, with a client-led self build for the internal spaces. The steel frame was galvanised in part because the building combines an internal insulated volume and a flexible winter garden space which is exposed and it was felt that the protection from galvanising was essential to the external area.

“deliver maximum impact through minimum means”

All flashings and reveals were galvanised to contrast the fibre cement and the exposed structural frame exists as a unified language. The project ethos sought to deliver maximum impact through minimum means and an approach that celebrated and supported local supply chains throughout the design and procurement of the project.

The Path to Revitalized Rural Landscapes

IDK and the Outside client team completed extensive consultation, generating support for the project from the early stages. Over 500 individual letters of support were submitted by local residents and the project also raised £60,000 from 300 individual donors through crowd funding for the skate bowl.

Outside have begun a programme of events and workshops which promote skill sharing, wellbeing and inclusivity: from girl/non binary skate clubs, graffiti workshops, swap/mending shops, ceramic/mosaic classes to film screenings and farm tours. On a daily basis, the cafe, workshops and wider site are open, bringing people together and providing the economic sustainability of the project itself.

The mixed use site looks to encourage cross pollination of individuals and groups with a restored natural ecology; fostering shared and intersectional learning experiences on the way. As the network grows Outside has the capacity to evolve and adapt in the image of the local and wider community which it looks to engage.

Photographs © Toby Coulson