Weft Helms, Sessay

The Welf Helms proposes a new patchwork of distinctive threading pathways and bold community spaces that are woven seamlessly into the physical, symbolic and emotional fabric of the village and its surrounding landscape.

Our entry for an RIBA Competition asking for an innovative design for a new community hub for a North Yorkshire village started with two new paths crossing the site, the Warp and the Weft.

The Warp pathway leads the design and is heralded from the main road by an entrance pavilion. The line of the Warp creates a central line that leads the eye across the site and beyond, with the White Horse of Kilburn framed by the nestling roof lines of the new building at the heart of the site. The Warp is intersected at the centre of the site by the second Weft path that crosses the site linking together the existing public rights of way. The paths and routes across the site create a variety of chance meeting points of the rich and diverse range of users and visitors to the site.

The Helms are protected by a family of modern timber shingled rooflines nestling together as a hamlet at the meeting point of the Warp and Weft paths, ageing and weathering gracefully and giving the new centre a distinctive and powerful identity. Local brick boundary walls weave through the spaces blurring their boundaries, while openings and walls of glass allow picture-framed or glimpsed views of the landscape beyond. As you move around the spaces new aspects are revealed, views to enjoy and teasing pathways which tempt you to follow them.

The Weft Helms defines itself with a simple modern yet vernacular style, expressed in a harmonious local dialect and palette, sown into village life and folding into the stunning landscape. In name also it recognises the uniqueness of Yorkshire heritage, helm meaning a shelter stood in the fields. It would become an area of the village that residents could feel justifiably proud of and that would reflect their thriving and active community.