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First year Construction T-Level students travelled back in time last week, when given a unique opportunity to learn first-hand how timber-framed buildings were built 3000 years ago!

Cirencester College’s outdoor instructor, Stuart Williams, had already planned to build a replica roundhouse on campus, and was excited to have the support of the construction students to help build it and put their construction theory into practice.

The project started with a visit to a roundhouse replica in Cirencester Water Park where the students completed a full measured survey of the impressive structure. The students produced a set of dimensioned drawings and took photos of the finer construction details. The structure is deceptively simple; the students soon realised that the thatched roof is extremely heavy, and the design of the supporting posts are the crucial key to the whole thing staying up.

Back on campus, the class split up into small teams and started to set out the 6.6m diameter circle, with 16 posts equally spaced around the circumference. Improvisation was key with the use lots of string and tape measures, as well as using their knowledge of circles and Pythagoras to get it exact. Teamwork and cooperation was very much in evidence.

Once the holes were accurately set out with pegs, the students began digging. After 4 hours of hard work, the post holes were about half the 750mmm depth they need to be, to support the outward-pushing forces of the roof. After nursing their blisters the students cooked some well-earned burgers on an open fire.

Course leader for the T-level Construction programme, Chris Lythgoe said, “This is a fantastic hands-on project for the students. Anyone passing by the small copse of trees would have thought they had gone back in time and come across a group of Iron-Age villagers building their new home! The students are looking forward to the next visit to the site and there is a competition under way to see who can get their hole the deepest!”

For more information about the Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction T-level please click here.

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