Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre

Woodbrooke is Europe’s only Quaker Study Centre, offering adult education since 1903. Courses include personal spiritual growth, theology, creative arts and training for Quaker roles. Woodbrooke is based in the former family home of the local chocolate maker, George Cadbury, himself a Quaker.

In addition to its educational facilities Woodbrooke has 70 bedrooms with many residents staying for conferences or bed and breakfast. Students do not study in the evenings and only have access to one small room.

BPN were appointed to design a new garden lounge that would double the amount of communal accommodation for students to use.

The building was designed as a contemporary addition to the Grade II Listed building, taking clues from the rhythms and detailing of the main building.

In accordance with the Quaker  ethos the building is highly sustainable having been constructed from ‘Porotherm’ clay blocks which achieve exceptional U-values without the need for man-made fibrous insulation. All materials achieved A or A+ in the BRE Green Guide to Sustainability.


I’d never heard of Porotherm until, when preparing my DIY building project for reconstruction of part of my house, I called in at EH Smith Builders Merchants and saw a sample on the counter.  I’d seen similar materials in central Europe so browsed the technical literature out of curiosity, soon realising it had many superior properties compared to concrete blocks. The main attraction was low thermal and moisture movement coupled with good thermal performance.  I wanted t...
Andrew Gromadzki, Senior Engineer , Arup


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