THE OAK FARM SEAT – MILCOMBE near BANBURY
Commissioners: Cherwell District Council in collaboration with housing developer Careys New Homes.
The seating design was developed on the basis of visits to the village and the site during 2013 as well as consultation with the local community of Milcombe. Through the research period, with walking and observing, speaking to people, reading the historic documents available and thinking of how ‘Oak Farm’ fits into the bigger world picture, various ideas came forth but the main focus has stayed with Oak itself.
The final design was therefore inspired by Pendunculate Oak – Quercus Robur (Latin: ‘Sturdy’) and what it represents:
Pendunculate Oak is native to the UK and most of Europe. Both pendunculate and sessile oaks are without doubt our most important wildlife trees in the UK and they support many hundreds of species. ‘Among these are the larvae of several hundred moths including the festoon, frosted green, small brindled beauty and blotched emerald, as well as the rarer false mocha and heart moth. The oak is a devoured foraging tree for many species such as blue tits, great tits, tree creepers, chaffinches, woodpeckers, wood mice and dormice and the acorns are enjoyed by jays, wood pigeons, squirrels and wild boar. Long-lived or veteran oak trees provide a variety of decaying and dead wood habitats which support many varieties of wood-boring insects. Cavities in the tree provide nesting space for owls and bats such as the noctule, Bechstein’s, barbestelle and natterer’s. Decaying oak supports a wide range of fungi’
‘Research by the Forestry Commission following the recent concern about the conditions for the presence of Acute Oak decline decease has been linked to the co-occurrence of the Agrilus biguttutas beetle.’
It is this ability to share and support life, whether it is beneficial or detrimental to the tree itself, that I would like to highlight via the design. In view of climate change and the support of a sustainable future, biodiversity is crucial to our long-term survival.
Translating these thoughts to the Milcombe community and towards the prospects for developing a good relationship between old and new, I wish to draw attention to this generosity of spirit and richness of community, with the hope that both new and old residents will respect the past, present and future variety of folk, remember to look for and value the hidden detail and keep a positive attitude to the richness of life.
Design: The proposed seating creates a comfortable space for people to meet and communicate and the positioning on site allows anyone from the village or passer-by to use the facility.
Within the structure are carved elements showing oak plant detail and images of other plant and animals species that form part of the oak ecology and biodiversity.
The seat is constructed from Dorset cleft green and air-dried Oak.
With best wishes for the future of the community