Hub building

Lordship Hub is a single storey building situated next to the lake in the middle of Lordship Rec and with sustainability at its core. It was designed by Anne Thorne Architects and was carried out with a lot of involvement from the local community.

The organic shape and neutral colour integrate nicely into the surrounding landscape and the positioning allows for best use of natural light and energy.

Quick access: Special Features | The Use of Straw | Community Involvement | National Recognition

The building is well insulated, requires the minimum of energy to run, and produces part of its own energy. It was built using natural, renewable materials with low environmental impact and the ventilation system provides good indoor air quality.

Special features:

  • FSC certified timber foundations and primary frame
  • Straw bale walls – straw is a natural insulation material
  • Non-toxic finishes such as clay plaster and natural paints
  • At the time of construction a Green roof was planted, but it unfortunately never took properly . We are planning to revisit it as a future project
  • Roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels are perfectly orientated to make the best use of sunlight
  • Elevated roof section allows light to flood into the hallway and for additional air circulation. This proves to be really valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) system allows 100% fresh air into a building– while at the same time counteracting heat loss, there is no air mixing between fresh air and outgoing air. Normal ventilation systems in public buildings tend to re-circulate the air to re-circulate the heat as well. We were extremely happy to find out about this feature during the pandemic:).
  • ‘Skirt’ of gabion walls to strengthen the timber and straw bale structure of the building 
  • Decorative metal security screens
  • Planting around the building

The use of straw:

Wood, straw bales and natural render

Straw is a sustainable building material and has been used mixed with clay as long as there has been agriculture. It was first used in construction over 100 years ago. However, the straw bale infill between timber-construction as used for the Hub Building does not rely on the bales to carry the load of the building.

Benefits of Straw Bale Construction 

  • High insulating qualities and high sound absorption
  • Simple, easy-to-learn construction techniques using inexpensive equipment
  • Straw is an inexpensive material that is usually locally available
  • Straw is natural and completely biodegradable
  • Straw is renewable in only one single growth season
  • Straw requires very little energy to produce and diverts farming waste material

Passive House (German: Passivhaus) is the world’s leading standard in energy efficient construction. The Passive House Standard stands for quality, comfort and energy efficiency. Passive Houses require very little energy to achieve a comfortable temperature year round, making conventional heating and air conditioning systems obsolete.

Community Involvement:

The straw bale construction of the Hub provided a great opportunity for volunteers from the local community to get involved and was done and supervised by Straw Works, now School of Natural Building, who still regularly use the Hub to deliver courses.


Obviously a natural and bespoke building brings with it its own challenges such as finding suitable contractors, having to change the filters and heat exchange units on a seasonal basis, and even fixing pictures on the  external straw bale walls can be a challenge. We have a building supervisor who is aware of many aspects of the building and a volunteer maintenance team who is eager to learn more. We are also in the fortunate position to still be able to call on Anne Thorne Architects as well as the Natural School of Building whenever we need advice.

A building like the Hub building will never be perfect, but will always retain its own natural beauty.

National recognition

The Hub has been shortlisted for awards, won awards and has been featured in a number of specialist publications and journals:

  • The Hub was featured in the 2012 London Open House event.
  • In 2013, the Hub won a RICS award: Highly Commended in the community benefit category.
  • In 2012, the Hub was shortlisted for a Builder & Engineer Award for sustainable project of the year.
  • Read the AECB article about the Hub.
  • Read the RIBA Journal article about the Hub.

View full press release below: