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Embracing Nature

One man’s journey into woodworking and sustainable modular structures.

James Millard at Wild Space Carpentry talks about his craft and vision. “From an early age, I found myself deeply inspired by nature and the idea of utilising local, natural materials to create functional and beautiful structures. This passion stems from a fascination with the explorers of old who ventured into the wilderness, crafting their dwellings from the materials they discovered along the way. These pioneers, with their profound skills and knowledge, built amazing spaces that harmonised with their surroundings.”

A significant source of inspiration for him has been the books by Lloyd Kahn. His works on natural building and sustainable living have profoundly influenced James’ approach to woodworking. Kahn’s emphasis on creating structures that blend seamlessly with their environment resonated with his own desire to work with nature rather than against it.

From family tradition to professional expertise

“My journey into woodworking began at home, under the guidance of my father, a skilled builder who taught me the fundamentals of carpentry. These early lessons laid the foundation for my career, instilling in me a deep respect for craftsmanship and the importance of quality work.” He continues, “I later expanded my skills by working for sustainable carpentry companies such as Umbazi and ARCO2. These experiences were transformative, as I learned to build high-spec, carbon-neutral passive houses using sustainable materials. We utilised locally sourced timber, recycled newspaper insulation, wood fibre board and airtight membranes to create structures that were not only environmentally friendly but also efficient and durable.”

Blending with the environment

When it comes to building wooden cabins, saunas and tiny houses, James and his team’s approach is defined by a commitment to blending design, shape, and materials with the surrounding environment. Every project starts with a deep appreciation for the landscape and a desire to create structures that complement rather than dominate their settings.

Commitment to sustainability

Ensuring sustainability in their projects involves meticulous attention to every stage, from sourcing materials to construction practices. They’ve established strong relationships with local sawmills, enabling them to select the best quality trees grown in Cornwall and England. This local sourcing minimises transportation emissions and supports the local economy.

Additionally, they use certified UK suppliers of sustainable materials such as sheep’s wool, wood fibre and sedum. These materials are chosen not only for their sustainability but also for their performance, ensuring that each structure is both eco-friendly and of high quality.

Highlight projects

“One standout project that showcases both our craftsmanship and commitment to sustainability is Round N Round at Little Menherion. This project involved a unique design challenge: creating a space by co-joining two roundhouses of different sizes via an entrance hall. Round N Round, located deep in the woods, required all materials to be carried down by hand. Working closely with the owners, Bernice and Huw, we crafted an organic structure that became a part of the woods, using trees felled on site to create the mezzanine and spiral staircase.”

Another notable project is the Scorrier House mobile sauna, designed for private hire and wellness retreats on the estate. Here they utilised a cedar tree grown in-situ, milled on-site with a mobile sawmill, to create the sauna benches. The rich scent and comfortable feel of the cedar, combined with the stunning views, make for a unique and immersive sauna experience.

Ensuring quality and longevity

In their projects, Wild Space frequently use larch due to its abundance and longevity once milled. Their relationship with local sawmills allows them to select the highest quality trees, ensuring that the wood used is sustainably sourced and of excellent quality. This careful selection process not only supports sustainable forestry practices but also ensures that the structures they build are durable and long-lasting.

Innovations in design

“At Wild Space, we are known for building cabins and saunas in highly challenging locations, such as Cornish cliff tops and remote, narrow gardens. Our modular designs allow us to break down a cabin into separate parts, which can then be easily transported and assembled on site. Each part of the structure is super-insulated and finished internally with sustainably sourced cladding chosen by the client.”

Their saunas feature a distinctive curved roof design, creating an extraordinary space both inside and out. The natural sedum curved roof appears like a rolling hill from the outside, while inside it feels like a wave of wood. This design not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also improves the functionality by guiding the steam (Löyly) to rise up in a wave, enveloping the senses.

Collaborating with clients

Customisation is key to meeting the specific needs and preferences of their clients. By working closely with them throughout the design and build process, they ensure that their vision and needs are fully realised. Using the fundamentals of their cabin designs, they communicate through visual representations and ongoing dialogue to deliver a final product that reflects a true collaboration between client and builder.

Benefits of Modular Construction

Modular construction offers numerous benefits in terms of sustainability, efficiency and quality. The use of low-impact foundations, such as pre-cast concrete pads, requires no on-site mixing. These pads can be buried, causing minimal disruption to the ecosystem offering support to the building with brackets. This approach not only reduces environmental impact but also speeds up the construction process and ensures a high-quality finish.

“In conclusion, my journey into woodworking and sustainable modular structures has been shaped by a deep respect for nature, a commitment to quality craftsmanship, and a passion for sustainable living. By blending traditional techniques with modern innovations, I aim to create beautiful, functional spaces that harmonise with their environment and stand the test of time.”


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