This landmark project sits within Eastbrookend Country Park, 140 hectares of reclaimed land, and embodies the best and most rigorous thinking on sustainable development at the time.
The visitors centre explains the ecology, history, flora and fauna of the area, and in addition to display areas, provides park rangers’ facilities and an education space. The south facade opens up completely to allow direct access out into the park.
The project generates some of its power needs by a wind turbine, and has provision for photovoltaic cells, illustrating buildings as net producers rather than consumers of energy.
The specification included timber from sustainable sources, reclaimed steel and aluminium, itself highly recyclable. It uses waste newsprint for insulation and is naturally ventilated. Even the foundations are innovative, using reusable steel screw anchors driven through the landfill into the gravel below with minimal disturbance. To minimise the building’s energy consumption and provide protection against vandalism, metal shutters cover the windows at night and then open up during the day to allow views out and provide shade.
A post occupancy evaluation of the centre found that it is performing very well across all the categories of the audit. Actual CO2 emissions are 34 kg CO2 /m²/yr.