Cornish delights

When Pete Kirby, one of our members from the South West, mentioned that he planned to plonk lots of shipping containers around Cornwall and turn each into something arty and creative, our eyes lit up. Rob Self-Pierson, who’s working on 26 Treasures again this year with John Simmons and team, asked Pete how he could get involved.

On March 26th (yes, 26th), the Playing Place, a shipping container with a theatrical twist, will open to the public in Truro, as part of the Cornwall Design Season. Rob will share the story behind his container in next month’s newsletter. But before he does, Pete’s been in touch with exciting news about another part of the Season. This time it’s a hotel with a difference…

The ShelterBox Hotel – for one night only

On 2 March, experience a one-night hotel built out of thousands of disused tent poles in the Eden Project Mediterranean Biome during the Cornwall Design Season, to raise funds and awareness for the disaster relief charity ShelterBox.

A world-class team of designers and engineers from across the country is working with local businesses, volunteers and the public to bring a unique one-night hotel to life. This is an experiment in construction and accommodation, with those involved donating their time for free. Travel costs and food for volunteers have been made possible by the generous support of sponsors Classic Cottages.

The centrepiece structure will be built using up to 10,000 disused tent poles donated by ShelterBox, and other salvaged materials from Cornwall Scrapstore and NISP. Chris Wise, Mevagissey resident and founder of Expedition Engineering (the UK’s leading structural engineering company who are creating the Velodrome for the 2012 London Olympics), and his team of bright young things, have designed the hotel.

Top fashion and textile designer Georgina Von Etzdorf will be working with Elsie Pinniger from Newquay-based Neon Wetsuits to stitch and weave some magic into the project and make sure guests have a good night’s sleep on reclaimed fabrics, sheepskin off-cuts, ribbon and whatever else they can muster in the incredibly tight time frame.

Guests, including the chief executive of the Design Council and other delegates of Cornwall’s creative business summit Intersections 2011, are being asked to pay £15 to secure a place. But they could pay £100 or more for their stay by making a personal donation to the charity on the night. We hope to auction off everything in the hotel afterwards, to raise as much money for ShelterBox as possible and make sure nothing’s wasted.
The hotel will be a Bedouin-style ‘under the stars’ night with some elements of eco-luxury. Kate Weaving, former manager of the Scarlet Hotel, who’s currently developing the Llawnroc Hotel near Gorran Haven, will be on hand to welcome and look after the guests. The experience will include evening entertainment from local musician Ryan Jones through to a locally sourced breakfast cooked by top chef Neil Martin, also from the Llawnroc Hotel.

The hotel ‘lounge’ is being donated by ReZolve and designed by Boex and Leap as a showcase of the new concept ‘Fresk’ that will supply hotels across Cornwall with environmentally sustainable furniture and interiors. Temperatures will be a rather chilly sub 10 degrees in the biome. So the team’s grateful for the donated clothing and amenities for guests, like socks from ethical local clothing store Finisterre and a hamper with some goodies from the Eden Project shop.

“We set out to build a beautiful hotel of out salvaged materials with no money and no time – to show what can be done with a good cause to spur you on. In return we hope our guests will enjoy a night they will remember for the rest of their lives. I’ll be there,” says Peter Kirby, creative director of the Cornwall Design Season.

Tom Henderson from ShelterBox says: “We’re excited to be featured in such an unusual and creative Cornish project. I hope it will highlight the importance of the work we do around the world providing some of the best quality shelter and survival equipment to families displaced by disaster.”

Simon Tregoning from Classic Cottages adds: “We’re supporting the project because we believe ShelterBox is a unique and vital charity and we’re great admirers of their work. Plus we’re neighbours, so it’s a bit of a coup for Helston.”

There’s a serious message behind the idea. Shelterbox’s guests will stay for one night. But in Haiti and Indonesia some families have been living in temporary ShelterBox tents for over a year – to survive. The project also aims to highlight the amount of usable scrap that goes into landfill each year, which could be reclaimed and recycled to give it a new lease of life.The ShelterBox Hotel will be open to the public on 2 and 3 March in the Mediterranean Biome at Eden. Anyone can help out – including tourists, schoolchildren and locals. For more information on how to get involved contact or visit


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