Farms For City Children

Reciprocal Roof Outdoor Classroom

Wholewoods started developing the outdoor teaching buildings at Farms For City Children in summer 2016. The big roundhouse will be used by children from city schools who are coming to learn about nature and farming. This will be their outdoor classroom. Some of the visiting children will be involved during the build in stripping the timbers and later on helping with the wall building. During the project Adult students will be assisting in the construction on one of our courses. These guided sessions are facilitated by Adrian Leaman, lead craftsman and trained Forest School leader. Below is a picture of one of the cordwood walls being built.

cordwood wall for reciprocal roof roundhouse

Reciprocal roof roundhouse cordwood wall

roundhouse Cad2
This roundhouses will sit on stone pads and be free-standing. (Most roundhouses have their upright posts buried in the ground, which makes them susceptible to rot.)


groundworks 12 post
We will be using our own jointing system for this project which is extremely robust, making our buildings suitable for schools and public spaces.


8.8 meters diameter to hold a normal school class.
Roof – The design plan view
This roundhouse will support a sedum roof. The reciprocal frame offers an open space which requires no central support.
Roundhouse sceme copy

The roundhouse will have a natural wood-chip floor.


roundhouse cordwood
Cordwood walls
Cordwood is a great walling option using lengths of wood like bricks held together with a cob (clay & straw mix). We will be giving instruction on this technique to FFCC staff who will then continue this activity with school children who are visiting.


Further information about Roundhouses

It’s always inspiring to spend time in a Roundhouse.  Round buildings are a welcome departure from the square-ness of our normal built environment. They sit very naturally in the landscape and, being similar to the Roundhouses of the Celts, create a link to our past.

The Roundhouses we build feature a Reciprocal Frame roof, which requires no central support. This roof is usually turf covered and sits on 8 to 13 posts, depending on structure diameter. (Severn to eight meters is most common as this holds a normal class, but we can also build them bigger or smaller.)

These structures are elegant and mind-boggling spectacles of geometry in action. The Reciprocal Frame, also known as a Mandala roof, has been used since the 12th century in Chinese and Japanese architecture although little or no trace of these ancient methods remains. Leonardo da Vinci also designed a self-supporting bridge using this method in the 16th century

Adrian Leaman has over 10 years’ experience in Roundwood Timber Framing. He has worked throughout the UK and is considered one of the country’s experts in this construction method. Adrian was involved in Ben Law’s ‘Woodland House’ (featured on Grand Designs) and project managed the build of Kevin McCloud’s ‘Man Made Home’ for the Channel 4 series.