Unusually heavy snowfall during the winter of 2000 caused Camp Kirkham’s dining hall to collapse. We had the camp’s new boathouse on the boards, but with summer camp less than six months away, the camp board asked us to temporarily put that project aside and quickly design a new building.
Our response: An open, flexible space with a cathedral ceiling that emphasizes the surviving grand stone fireplace. We chose natural vertical siding and rough-sawn pine trims for economy and to compliment the surrounding woods. The use of local materials saved fuel-transportation costs and helped support a nearby lumberyard.
The setting lent itself to the use of natural ventilation. Oversized sliding doors promote airflow and allow campers to easily open one wall of the building and expand the space onto the deck for most summer functions. Demountable railing sections turn the deck into a stage for dramatic presentations. The wrap-around timber porch provides additional seating and a covered connection to the kitchen during cloudbursts. Ceiling fans keep the space cool in hot weather.
How did we protect the hall from the fierce New Hampshire winters? The new structure - 2x6 bearing walls with scissors trusses - is stiffened with four double-truss-and-post bays and braced by the timber porch. Highly efficient insulation allows the fireplace to warm the space with wood harvested from the campgrounds—a practice that lowers heating costs and promotes good forest stewardship.