by Eliza Hague
Ewe-topia, located to the Northwest of Heathrow Airport, proposes a manufacturing and research facility for the innovative use of wool as a building material. The programme investigates how compacted fleeces can create versatile and tactile architecture, replacing less sustainable construction materials. Situated within the airport’s proposed third runway site, the project offers a scheme that contrasts with Heathrow’s detrimental expansion plans, instead retaining the landscape and expanding the existing community. The scheme presents a new industry which looks to reconnect people with natural materials, drawing attention to their haptic characteristics and spatial versatility. Since the past year has seen the value of wool dramatically plummet, leading to masses of unsalable wool waste and financial hardship for farmers, the project seeks to increase its demand through the development of unique building components. Ewe-topia comprises factory buildings, innovation labs and accommodation units which are embedded into the landscape topography. A ‘re-imagined’ shepherd’s hut inhabits the site, following the sheep across the varied silvo-pasture landscape. The architecture is constructed using the compacted wool, which is strengthened using bio-resin. Iterative physical investigations were undertaken to test the material’s spatial application and the experiential qualities it evokes.