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In the Nature of Materials – Discussions on Architecture

Saturday 18 September

Book tickets


In the Nature of Materials: Discussions on Architecture: Three panels. 10 minute introduction by the chair. 5 minute presentation by each panelist followed by a discussion and questions from the floor.

Material, Construction and Concepts



Time: 10:30 – 12pm
Materials: extracted vs grown and innovations

Panel chaired by Sarah Wigglesworth RDI MBE RIBA, Director Member Part W, Design Council Expert

Summer Islam (Material Cultures), Tara Gbolade (Co-Founder of GDS and Steering Group Member Architects Declare), Charley Brentnall (founder Carpenter Oak and Woodland)





Time: 2 – 3:30pm
Construction: how buildings are made

Panel chaired by Peter Clegg (FCB Studios)

Matthew Barnett Howland (CSK Architects and UCL), Jolyon Brewis (Grimshaws/ Eden Project), Jonathan Tuckey (Jonathan Tuckey Design), Ms Shankari Raj BSc MArch (Hons) RIBA ARB AoU



Time: 3:45 – 5:30pm
Concepts: major projects developments responding to the carbon crisis

Panel chaired by Mike Stiff (Stiff + Trevillion)

Charlie Paton (Founder, Seawater Greenhouse), Andrew Grant (Grant Associates), Patrick Bellew (Atelier Ten), Sarah Featherstone (Founder VeloCity)


Book on to one talk or stay for the day as some of the leading minds and innovators in architecture discuss how we can better use resources and learn from nature to find solutions to some of the biggest problems affecting the environment. Supper is available in the Mess Restaurant in the evening, book separately by email at

Messums Wiltshire’s third annual architecture festival focusses on the nature of materials within contemporary architectural practice. We are joined by some of the leading minds and innovators within the field as they discuss how we can better use resources and learn from nature to find solutions to some of the biggest problems affecting the environment.

The two most serious issues in today’s world are those of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. Building accounts for 40% of carbon emissions worldwide and has a significant impact on the natural world. It is a huge issue and one which affects us all.

For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour [and] we will need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system. (Architects Declare)

In the Nature of Materials will examine how architects and working practices can play a vital role in affecting change by building more environmentally responsive and sensitive buildings and involves the names behind some of most dynamic projects around the world including:

Charlie Paton – Seawater Greenhouse, a project which is using sunlight and seawater to create productive growing environments in some of the most drought prone places in the world.

Summer Islam – Material Cultures, a research organisation which is exploring natural materials in the context of off-site construction. Recent projects include those that have used bio-plastics, hemp and flax to create a ground breaking radically low embodied carbon house in collaboration with Practice Architecture, a venture that extended to the creation of a brand new hemp fibre cladding product that was used for the first time on the building.

Patrick Bellew & Andrew Grant – Gardens by the Bay, a 54 hectare site in Bay South, Singapore that became a global phenomenon and one that expresses the beauty of the orchid (Singapore’s national flower) through exotic gardens and a sophisticated infrastructure for managing energy, water and waste.

Matthew Barnett Howland, whose work in architectural practice, research and teaching is focussed on methods of design and construction that respond to the dynamics of finite resource systems. Matthew led on the research, design and construction of Cork House, a pilot project for an innovative solid cork construction kit with outstanding whole life performance, which was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize and was winner of the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize.

Jolyon Brewis, Grimshaws, whose work includes The Eden Project, Cornwall – a pioneering and award-winning biome design and an exercise in using materials as efficiently as possible. Grimshaws architectural approach is the culmination of an evolutionary process that derives beauty from form, economy and efficiency, respecting the fragility and resources of our planet.
To be active within environmental discourse means emancipating our thinking through understanding, which can help all of us with our own individual decisions. Messums Wiltshire is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of Cranborne Chase and underpinning all of this programming is an appreciation and respect for nature to which most artists and designers readily align.