In 1907 Robert Baden-Powell held his first scout camp, bringing 22 boys from different backgrounds – then a radical social idea – to Brownsea Island, 230 hectares of unspoilt pine woods, heath and salt marsh at the mouth of Poole Harbour, Dorset.
The Baden Powell Outdoor Centre was commissioned by The National Trust and the Brownsea Island Scout and Guide Committee to celebrate the centenary of this first scout camp.
Planning consent was obtained on this very sensitive site on the understanding that the buildings would be in harmony with the landscape, low carbon in both construction and use and designed to prevent contamination of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on which it is built.
The buildings house a small museum telling the story of Baden-Powell, a teaching/multipurpose space, showers, WCs, washup facilities, staff accommodation and storage; they are situated on a sloping site overlooking the position of the original scout camp. The site was extremely challenging as it had no electricity, gas or sewerage utilities and was accessed from a dirt track road about half a mile from the quay on Brownsea Island.
The design intention was to create an encampment of simple but poetic buildings clustered around an external activity space. The buildings touch the ground lightly and were inspired by the form of the original ridge pole tents used in the first encampment and the spirit of the scouting ideal to ‘leave the land as found’.