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Cultybraggan Hut One, Comrie

Cultybraggan Hut One, Comrie

One of eighty huts in a former Prisoner of War Camp in Perthshire, Hut One has been refurbished as a visitors centre using innovative materials.

Overview

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“This is a unique Refurbishment Project. We’re effectively refurbishing a temporary structure- a very efficient structure” Matt Bridgestock, Project Architect

Comrie Development Trust acquired Cultybraggan Camp in 2007 as a result of a community buy-out. The Development trust have developed a 10 year plan for the Camp`s development based the themes of food production; sport and recreation; business; and technology / eco-hub. The site is not only unique in that it’s one of the best preserved POW camps in Britain, but it was also the only POW Camp to house the SS - in Camp 21. With around 80 huts in total, about 30 are either A or B listed.

Hut One, at the entrance to the camp, will be used as a reception and interpretation centre as the camp develops. In time it is envisaged that a permanent visitors centre will be built in the centre of the camp and hut one will become an office for the Development Trust. This refurbishment secures this B listed building for the future and turns it into a flexible, warm, useable space.

 

Approach

The Nissen Hut is essentially a metal tent with a brick wall on either end it was all designed to fit on a single 10 ton truck and be erected quickly. They were intended to be temporary structures but around 70 years after the war, they are still wind and watertight. The first priority was to ensure the conservation and extension of the life of these buildings. This included replacing rotten items, replacing windows, fixing external fabric, work to the front and back walls and replacing the electrics.

The second priority was to improve the buildings to become functional warm spaces. This is Hut One’s third different insulation process. They were initially insulated with straw. Then after the war they took the straw out when it became an army camp. Then spray foam was put in as insulation.

“We’re aiming to promote materials that could be made in Scotland but currently aren’t. There could be an industry and market for these types of products in Scotland so by having them in this high profile project hopefully it might generate interest” Matt Bridgestock, Project Architect

The inner skin was removed and the shell re-insulated, the floor was insulated using wood fibre board and the end walls were insulated externally. A significant part of the strategy was to improve the airtightness of the building which was originally very leaky, an airtightness barrier was introduced into the build up of the shell and sealed at both ends. The new windows and doors are double glazed and well insulated. This means that the main exhibition hall is now comfortably heated with a tiny, 2kW electric panel heater.

Natural materials with low embodied energy have been selected and work in harmony with the existing materials of the hut. Use of timber has been prioritised through new, high performance doors and windows, new timber lining and woodfibre board for insulation.

Please see the attached case study for information on innovative materials used. 

Performance

The project has transformed a cold and sparse building into a warm, attractive, useable space. Previously the space could not be heated sufficiently to make it comfortable, it can now be heated throughout the year with just a 2kW electric panel heater. 

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Lessons

The lessons for this project will be translated into action on the other huts on the Cultybraggan Camp. We have learnt about the construction of the Nissen huts and the priorities for retrofit work. Through undertaking this project we have examined how that work can be easily undertaken to allow for more economical refurbishment in the future, we can also evaluate which interventions make the most significant differences.

Anecdotal feedback offers the following insights:

  • Improving the airtightness seems to offer a huge improvement on the energy efficiency.
  • Insulating the floor and replacing the windows has also made a significant impact on the comfort of the building.
  • Re-insulating the shell with a variety of materials is possible and seems to lead to improved thermal performance.
  • Careful design of the narrow doors is required to make the buildings accessible
  • removing the internal lining means that a new lining is required with appropriate support and fixing, which can be costly
  • The cost of undertaking these works on a listed building should not be underestimated
  • Listed building consent and building warrant approval are needed for all of the works undertake on this hut. Perth and Kinross Council have been supportive of these new approaches to retaining and improving these temporary structures.

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