• Whytham Research Chalet, University of Oxford

    Wytham Woods is an ancient semi-natural woodland which has been owned and maintained by Oxford University since 1942. Its 1,000 acres are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and represent one of the most researched pieces of woodland in the world. Darke & Taylor is an approved contractor to the University of Oxford. This was a one-off project to help with the refurbishment of the Research Chalet, located in the middle of Wytham Woods.

    Whytham Research Chalet, University of Oxford


Remote location & adverse conditions: The works were undertaken ‘out of season’ to minimise disruption, which meant that Darke & Taylor (D&T) had to cope with snow, restricted woodland access and a very patchy mobile signal!

The wildlife issue: The remote woodland location was fantastic for wildlife research but presented significant challenges when it came to securing and preventing damage to cabling.

Limited by a single-phase electrical supply: The change in building usage called for an upgrade to a 3-phase supply. This was so that all the electrical services could work simultaneously in the Chalet. However, Scottish & Southern (the DNO) was not able to schedule the mains upgrade until November 2020, so a temporary solution needed to be found in the meantime.

Sensitive refurbishment: The Chalet upgrade called for a number of different disciplines to be undertaken concurrently. However, given the coded entrance gates and the need to restrict vehicle numbers in such an environmentally sensitive setting, the University wished to minimise the amount of footfall on site.


Problem-solving in advance: Given the physical and communication restrictions, D&T had carefully plan and anticipate problems, working closely alongside the main contractor. Onsite coordination was helped by the fact that D&T could offer a one-stop shop solution [see point 4].

Wildlife control: D&T had to take extra care to ensure that everything was fully contained in order to prevent wildlife from gnawing through the cabling. This meant extra metal trunking internally and armoured cabling for all exterior works.

Working around restrictions: D&T put in place a temporary management plan for the Chalet, detailing which electrical operations could be operated concurrently, and which needed to be phased. Once the 3-phase supply has been installed by the DNO, D&T will fit and test the final connections.

One-stop solution: D&T was able to offer all the disciplines required in-house; i.e. Electrical, Fire Alarm, Security and Network Cabling. This meant that the project could be priced extremely competitively.


“Wytham Woods is an ancient semi-natural woodland, Its 1,000 acres are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and represent one of the most researched pieces of woodland in the world.”

Technical overview

This project required an upgrade to meet current regulatory requirements whilst altering the property and external grounds to suit the newly proposed research and teaching brief. This included design responsibility and due to the increased electrical demands the existing single phase incoming electrical supply was upgraded to a 3-phase supply.

Due to the time and financial constraints of this project, D&T was engaged to offer a full turnkey solution using our multi-skilled engineers and project managers to install all types of cabled system including electrical, fire alarm, security and network cabling.

Project details

CLIENTUniversity of Oxford
ARCHITECTOxford Architects
MAIN CONTRACTORRichard Ward, Oxford

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