Hooke Park Sessions

Common Ground and the Architectural Association have started an exciting new collaboration in West Dorset.

The Hooke Park Sessions are a series of public events, artist residencies and an architectural fellowship which explore the history, architecture, material and ecology of the woodland landscape. The project will bring a variety of people together – foresters, students, artists, storytellers, architects, musicians, scientists, film-makers, teachers – to help demonstrate how woodlands can become a vibrant and relevant part of community life.

Once a deer-hunting enclosure for King John, today the forest is managed by the Architectural Association as a woodland campus. The mixture of broadleaved and conifer species have become the prime source of timber for students who live and work in the forest, who use the natural materials from the woods to experiment with design and construction. Around Hooke Park, the historic rural landscape and the vernacular of village buildings provides a unique and fascinating juxtaposition between the countryside and the urban, international focus of the architecture school. It is the perfect place to explore how landscape, ecology and wildlife are not only sources of inspiration for the architectural and artistic imagination, but also resources for shaping human culture.

‘I have left a touch in a landscape steeped in associations between people and land. It is a social landmark – a passing through place that gives a sense of entering without blocking the way – an invitation. It is a signpost, gateway, boundary marker and milestone that celebrates the beginning of the wood.’ ANDY GOLDSWORTHY, July 1986

In July 1986 Common Ground brought the New Milestone project to Hooke Park, collaborating with the furniture designer John Makepeace of the Parnham Trust and the artist Andy Goldsworthy, who lived and worked in the woods to build a gateway which became a popular local landmark. By the end of 2014, the iconic gateway had reached the end of its life. The Architectural Association, concerned for the safety of passers-by and people working in the woodland, began a project to dismantle the structure and construct something new in its place, starting by reusing the timbers to form waymarkers for a public footpath. The project is being led by Shin Egashira, an artist, architect and the founder of the Koshirakura Landscape Workshop. While the gateway project is underway, the public events and artist residencies hosted by Common Ground and the Architectural Association will extend the invitation to explore Hooke Park that Andy Goldsworthy’s gates extended to the wider community thirty years ago.

Read more about Andy Goldsworthy’s work with Common Ground.

The Hooke Park Sessions are both practical and imaginative opportunities to improve community access and contact with Hooke Park. The lecture series invites nearby communities to the forest to hear a variety of speakers talk about landscape, art and architecture. The artists in residence, while living in the forest to research and develop their work, will also lead community and student workshops, exploring the intersections between art and architecture, woodland ecology and the local community.

Partners of the Hooke Park Sessions are:


Get involved or find out more about the project: