Axe Wetlands field centre is officially opened

Unique structure sits on stilts over a reedbed and is accessed via an island boardwalk

A PIONEERING field study centre was officially opened at the Axe Wetlands on Friday.

The new classroom was formally unveiled by East Devon District Council chairman Peter Halse.

The unique structure sits on stilts over a reedbed and is accessed via an island boardwalk.

It has been built for schools, colleges and adult groups as a classroom to use in case of bad weather, bolstering the all-weather capacity for education on the site.

Axe Wetlands Officer Fraser Rush said its construction presented special challenges.

He said: “The wooden building sits low over a reedbed in the floodplain so it has been designed to cope with flood events forecast on a ten-year cycle.

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“Rather than attempt to keep water out, the building has been designed to allow water to flood in and out again easily, with special valves at floor level to ensure this can happen. If we tried to keep the water out, the classroom might float away and, conversely, if the water couldn’t escape the walls of the building may have burst open under pressure, so it was a challenging design brief!”

Anyone interested in booking the classroom for a school or adult group wanting to visit the Axe Estuary Wetlands should call Meg Knowles on 07734 568 821 or the countryside service on 01395 517 557.