The overarching aim of our proposal is to create an environment that promotes deeper interaction with nature, thereby raising awareness and understanding of our relationship with it.
To promote this the centre sits within the landscape, touching the ground lightly, with the building envelopes responding to the outdoor environment by folding back to admit a breeze or to watch birds feeding amongst the vegetation.
Building elements are dispersed along a covered walkway, facilitating wayfinding and accessibility. The Hive houses the café, exhibitions and reception with administration and amenity centrally located along the walkway and finally the education centre and studio, wrapping the amphitheatre at the end of the Elemental Garden. Two retreat huts are sited off the walkway for secluded learning and therapy.
The buildings are open A-framed timber structures providing views across the site and lake. Elevated on stilts the experience of floating above the ground plane is heightened.
The buildings in-between spaces are designed to encourage exploration of nature. Plant and species biodiversity will be extended and existing habitats improved.
Every visitor can access a condensed experience of the wider reserve close to the centre. This culminates with a short journey to the ‘outpost’; a tiered hide which realigns your focus to the quiet observation of birdlife on the islands of the East Lake.
A sunken hide protruding into West Lake will provide a unique water level perspective of wetland birds.
The centre has been designed to facilitate partnerships beyond the site with the possibility of forest schools, local produce markets, community events and links with the local allotments.
Reserve management will be in a separate building with a secure compound using a rationalised access route shared with visitor’s vehicles.