The wooden roundhouse situated at the Garrochar Wildlife Ponds was commissioned in 2007 by Balloch Community Woodland Project to provide an interpretation shelter and meeting point.
The structure was designed by Alex Rigg and Gordon Donald to be built using green oak and traditional techniques. The shape of the building is influenced by the form of the trees themselves. It uses a suspended king-post as a central focus and the proportions and curves aim to make the roundhouse both inviting, and interesting.
The timber was sourced through Archie McConnel in Penpont and was chosen from trees that were being thinned as part of controlled management in a wood near to Edinburgh. Trees were chosen which had a natural curve in order to give more strength to the roof and walls in the long term.
At McConnel Wood products the trees were planked by Jim Sutherland – they were still very wet at this stage and extremely heavy! During the summer the timber was shaped and jointed by Alex and the design modified to suit the curves that could be found within the planks.
Work on-site at Balloch Wood did not start until October, at which point Laurence O’Neill from Kirkcudbright prepared the ground and poured concrete to make circular foundations. In November the prepared timbers arrived at the wood and work began in earnest to have the main structure self supporting by Christmas.
Alex worked with Mark Zygadlo, a writer and craftsman from Auldgirth, wrestling with the large timbers to hold them in place. The top of the suspended pillar in the centre of the building is carved into the shape of a human head; there is no particular story to the likeness itself but it contains the intention of giving the building a unique character and presence within the area.
Work continued into February, completing the roof with cedar shingles from Canada and was completed with the help of several people including Gordon Donald, Trevor Leat and Oliver Rigg.