Page 1

Brockholes Visitor Centre Building Critique ARC 3015e Robert Patone


I believe architecture is about creating built form that drives forward the way we live and function, using innovative technological construction and accomplished design, whilst respecting its context and the wider world, the Brockholes’ Visitor Centre demonstrates these qualities to an exemplary degree. The Brockholes Visitor Centre by Adam Khan is a complex of buildings constructed on a floating pontoon in the Brockholes nature reserve. It was designed to inflict as little an impact on its environment as possible, and by using innovative technological practices make the building sustainable. The RIBA opened a competition to its member in 2007, the brief explained that the client, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, did not want to compromise the site’s main use of nature conservation nor did they want a sub standard building. They wanted to create a visitor centre of Architectural distinction. They also wanted it to be a signpost to the world and that it would inspire people about the natural world. The site itself, a former gravel quarry of 250 acres, lies on a river floodplain and will potentially flood three times a year. It has four large lakes and is a site of natural wildlife significance, particularly for nesting migratory birds. The initial brief called for facilities that could include such things as a cafÊ or restaurant, galleries, and education area and conference

spaces. The building was being designed before the reserve had opened and because of this the use of the building was only projected. Located just off the M6 near Preston, the plan for strategy as a whole was and still is to encourage people from the large cities such as Manchester and Liverpool to come and experience the natural environment at close quarters, as well as encouraging motorists to use it as an alternative service station. This location and function make this a fairly unique building to design. Not only did it need to be a signpost for the nature reserve itself but it also needed to be a signpost for environmental construction. Another consideration in design was to make sure that the maximum area for wildlife conservation was retained and the introduction of new wildlife habitats was not constrained. This presented the Architect with a difficult balance to create. The building is first glimpsed from the entrance road, a series of pitched roofs rising from the water against a wetlands background. A Village floating on the water was the original concept of Adam Khan, and it is wholly achieved. Its likeness to an ancient marshland village could only be bettered if the original design of thatching the roof had been integrated. In concept Khan claimed that the building could rest on any of body of water on the nature reserve, since it had no preference to site. Many progressions took place from his original concept. The thatch roofing was rejected, instead a finish of oak shingles sits above the forms; after visiting the building on its opening

fig 1. View from Entrance Road

Robert Paton

ARC3015


65265

aA

aB

2300

aC

2300

2300

aD

2300

aE

aF

2300

2300

aG

2300

aH

aI

2300

aJ

2300

aK

2300

2300

aL

aM

2300

1500

aN

aO

5525

aP

aQ

5525

785

475

aR

aS

5525

785

aT

aU

5525

Restraint post as per SE spec

785

bA

bB

1775

bC

1775

bE 475

475

a1

AR05 changing

b1

BR03 lpg store

2300

2000

AR04 office

BR00 plant b2

a2

2300

2000

a2

AR01 servery

b3

BR01 shop

a3

2300

2000

Building A AR08 male toilet

AR09 disabled toilet

a4

b4

AR07 female toilet a4

2000

a3

b5

2000

2300

AR02 lobby

a5

475

a5

b6

2000

AR06 family changing a6

b7

2000

475

Building B

Restraint post as per SE spec

eA

2000

eB

2000

eC

2000

eD

2000

eE

2000

eF

2000

eG

2000

2000

b8

Bench 3 refer to 027/5608

Bench 5 refer to 027/5608

eH

2000

b9

Bench 1 refer to 027/5607

b10

e1

ER00 exhibition

2000

BR02 reception

2000

Bench 4 refer to 027/5608

b11

2000

2000

41900

e2

b12

e3

Building E

2000

BR03 office

2000

Restraint post as per SE spec

b13

2000

2000

e4

b14

475

475

e5

Bench 6 refer to 027/5608

d1

DR00 conference

DR02 lobby

2000

5365

d2

2000

DR10 AV store Access Bridge 1

DR09 store 2 DR07 kitchen

2000

d3

d4

c1

CR05 toilet

CR01 classroom

DR08 store 1

c2

DR01 breakout

DR04 cleaners

DR03 disabled toilet

2000

Building D

Building C

2000

d5

2000

2000

CR02 lobby

d6

c3

2000

CR03 store

Bench 2 refer to 027/5607

DR05 male toilet

DR06 female toilet

c4

2000

CR04 disabled toilet

2000

The complex is entered across two drawbridges which using hydraulics can be raised or lowered depending on the level of the water. On to the pontoon the buildings are arranged around several open spaces with one central building. A large square at the back is open to the water

1775

475

475

AR03 kitchen

AR00 cafe

d7

c5

d8 475

The pontoon is created using a hollow concrete raft filled partially with polystyrene upon which the whole building was constructed. The concept behind this was to allow the building to float up if or most probably when the site flooded, because of the buildings location on the River Ribble’s flood plain. Four pillars attached by collars around the raft stop the building from floating away.

bD

1775

475

a1

2000

a year ago and visiting it again recently I saw that the weathering of the shingles had allowed the building to further sit into its surrounding. Another long term strategy to help the building blend with the environment was the planting of reed beds around the building so that when fully grown the building would seem to grow from the reeds on viewing it from the other sides of the lake. The reeds would also provide different views out of the complex, allowing habitats to be viewed at close quarters.

Access Bridge 2

475 dA

2000

2000 dB

2000 dC

2000 dD

2000 dE

2000 dF

2000 dG

2000 dH

2000 dI

2000 dJ

2000 dK

2000 dL

Revisions

Restraint post as per SE spec

475 dM

2000 cA

2000 cB

2000 cC

2000 cD

2000 cE

fig 2. Plan of Village

2000 cF

2000 cG

2000 cH

2000 cI

2000 cJ

cK

* a b

Date 21. 07. 09 10. 08. 09 18. 01. 10

c d

21. 05. 10 25. 05. 10

Tender Issue access bridge, lighting Contract Issue stairs removed access bridge 2 reduced size benches, balustrades rev C re-issued

Adam Khan Architects 54-58 Tanner Street London SE1 3PH 020 7403 9897 www.adamkhan.co.uk

Notes: This drawing is to be read in conjunction with all other issued information incl. architect's, structural engineer's and M&E engineer's drawings and specifications. Report any discrepancies to architects. All dimensions are in millimeters. All levels are taken from the internal FFL as datum +0mm. Do not scale from this drawing. All CDP elements are drawn as design intent only.

Brockholes Wetland Centre

027/5110d

and integrates spaces for sitting and enjoying the views. Suspended Lighting above

ISSUED FOR PRICING Island plan Scale 1:100 @ A1 25. 05. 10

The first functions reached when entering the “village” from the most obvious entrance are the gift shop and learning facilities; directly in front is the gallery space. The conference rooms are in the back left corner and the restaurant the back right. The pitched roofs serve to identify the differing functions of each space. Larger roofs are used for the important learning facilities and the large open plan restaurant while a series of smaller roofs cover the conference facilities and the kitchen and toilets.

fig 3. Site Plan of Nature Reserve

Robert Paton

ARC3015


fig 4. Cirrculation to use

fig 5. Unit to Whole

Robert Paton

ARC3015


recycled newspaper juxtapose the tactile nature of the beams as they span them to form the interior surface of the construction. The exterior is clad in oak shingles which hang above, a combination of oak slats and large glazed elevations allowing views out across the lake, and into the courtyards. They are finished off with copper drains and downpipes which will mature into their settings. The building was constructed on site. Even though the idea of using a concrete pontoon was innovative, the construction was very similar to constructing raft foundations. The 4,000 ton building was constructed in a dry dock on site, with the raft bed formed in a number of concrete pours then the buildings constructed on top. The area was then re –flooded and the building then floated up to its resting position. Khan’s approach to design, in his own words, was to “challenge the traditional fact-led, tick the boxes approach to BREEAM and to use the pursuit of sustainability as the means to create more beautiful buildings, not less.” He was rewarded when the building was given the new “Outstanding” BREEAM rating. This shows wholeness to Khan’s method of design. Every stage of the project had to relate back to this agenda, but not be restricted by it.

fig 6. Interior View

The organisation of the building lends itself to exploration; the buildings create varied sightlines out to the lake and through the complex itself. This “village” technique also creates a sense of community and hierarchy, large important structure covers the key public spaces whilst centring framing public squares.

The Brockholes’ Visitor Centre’s unparalleled success, it has gained notice in Architectural circles, so much so that the RIBA North West has held meetings there, as well as being several design awards, but in the wider public context,

The buildings are constructed out of large glulam portal frames which are still visible on the inside of the buildings reaching up into the roofs. Structural insulation panels made from

D01/5471

D08/5471

D02/5471

400 lit.water storage

260

CT6

360

260

315

100

WT9

115 475

lift and slide panel

WT9

26 0

CR00 education

50 150

12 0

80

25

CR00 education

Refer to S.E.& M.E. drawings Refer to S.E.& M.E. drawings

2000

cK

2000

cJ

2000

cI

fig 7. Section of two forms 01 Building C. long section

Robert Paton

2000

cH

2000

cG

2000

cF

2000

cE

2000

cD

2000

cC

2000

cB

2000

cA

c5

02

2000 c4

2000 c3

2000 c2

c1

Building C. short section

ARC3015 Notes: This drawing is to be read in conjunction with all other issued information incl. architect's, structural engineer's and M&E engineer's drawings and specifications. Report any discrepancies to architects.


fig 8. Massing

fig 9. Hierarchy

Robert Paton

ARC3015


is down to its architect. The Nature reserve as a whole has successfully reached the initial target of a quarter of a million visitors a year, no doubt supported by the inclusion of a building of architectural distinction in the visitor centre. While attracting plaudits for its design, there have been some challenges associated with the running of a unique environmentally sustainable project, where many of the services have not previously been installed in this situation: the under floor heating of the pontoon is provided by a remote wood-chip powered boiler whose capacity was underspecified. The insistence on grey lake water to flush toilets is at odds with the clean conditions expected of a tourist attraction, and the reed bed wastewater treatment system has some noxious smells as the reeds have insufficient growth to digest the effluent at present. The un-metaled approach paths while attractive have been eroded by normal rainfall. Time will resolve most of this. In the original competition winning design, the forms were displayed as thatched angled structures. Collaboration and compromises in the design stages created a more realistic composition. The shapes took on a more regimented form as a result of pressure to create usable space. Yet the overall look of the building can be said to look as the architect envisioned, viewed through reeds from the approaching road the building bears a close resemblance to the initial sketches with the pyramids rising out of the landscape. I think a key moment in this building’s life will be when the surrounding landscape catches up with it, when the reed beds are fully grown to surround and frame it, and the habitats still being created are being used. Then the building will be in the setting for which it was designed.

fig 10. Detailing of Oak Shingles to copper drains and Oak Slats

and innovative creation. It has quickly put the nature reserve on the map, and has revived a city whose last recognised input to significant architecture was its infamous brutalist bus station. Constructed on budget and on schedule the building has achieved most of goals set out originally in the client brief, it has gone from strength to strength in its first year achieving the sort of architectural impact that will make it a precedent for not just future sustainability projects but any design that wants to fully integrate itself with its social and physical context.

The visitor centre a year after opening is starting to gain architectural recognition, other the last year it has won five awards, for its sustainability

Robert Paton

ARC3015

Brockholes Visitor Centre Analysis Uni Essay  

Principle and theories essay on the Award winning Brockholes Nature Reserve Visitor Centre by Adam Kahn.

Advertisement