Operating since 1782, Sworders has been ‘recycling’ fine art and antiques from one owner to another for generations and, with an eco-friendly approach to business at the core of Sworders’ ethos, the company operates in purpose built environmentally-friendly auction rooms. Completed in 2008, the space was the largest straw bale building in Europe, and was officially opened by HRH Princess Michael of Kent. Shortly after opening its doors, Sworders was awarded a Sustainability Award by the RICS in 2009.
Guy Schooling, Chairman at Sworders, comments: “As auctioneers, we see ourselves as part of the recycling industry because we pass items from people who no longer require them to new owners who will treasure them. Built in such an environmentally-friendly manner, our flagship auction rooms reflect the eco-friendly nature of our business too, and we are proud to be celebrating 10 years here. From the big initiatives to the small – over the last decade we have made a considerable positive environmental impact.”
Sworders Directors worked together on the concept for the building and the late Robert Ward Booth, an architect and Director at Sworders at the time, proposed the eco-building design. It was Guy Schooling’s wife, Pam, who suggested constructing with straw bale walls after seeing this method used on Grand Designs. For this part of the project, Sworders worked with Amazonails, pioneers of straw bale construction. The building’s timber frame was sourced from managed sustainable forests in Scandinavia and filled with the tight-packed straw bales, which are compressed and held together by the building’s sustainable cedar-shingle roof.
Schooling continues: “Straw is an excellent material for construction – as well as providing great insulation, straw bales don’t need to be fired like bricks, and don’t require cement, meaning the environmental impact is reduced. On top of this, the innovative design of our auction rooms means that, for the past decade we have operated in an eco-friendly way – and will continue to do so for many years to come. We harvest rainwater from our cedar-shingle roof to flush the lavatories, and most of our hot water and heating is provided by a biofuel wood chip boiler and solar panels.”
To celebrate a decade of positive environmental impact in the area, on Tuesday 19 June Sworders will host a prestigious 10th anniversary auction profiling fine furniture, British and European paintings, silver, clocks and works of art. Many people involved with the build of Sworders’ auction rooms will be in attendance.