sevenoaks nature centre


RIBA Competition

Sevenoaks, UK



A new visitor’s centre for Kent Wildlife Trust offering key messaging around nature, health and wellbeing.

The underlying concept behind the proposal is to integrate the new building into an existing ecosystem in the most sensitive manner possible. The building is designed to be open and engaging, offering permeability which encourages users to effortlessly penetrate and inhabit the space . This is initiated by maintaining uninterrupted the existing pathways throughout the site, with the new building acting as a moment along the way. A new ramped access is intended to elevate visitors up into the main area which is nestled amongst trees, overlooking the two lakes. Thus the structure is conceived as a ‘hide’, located in amongst the trees, on a narrow isthmus of land between two bodies of water. This presents an opportunity to engage with the lakes on either side and hence allows the public to visually connect with the context whilst interacting with the exhibitions and workshops within. Over-sailing roofs are to protect the building and to offer shelter to the external walkway through the centre, which reflects the ethos and connection between the building and the landscape of which it is to be part. The materials proposed are chosen for their connections to the local vernacular, their low-maintenance requirements and their sustainability. Timber truss structural members support a timber roof structure, over-clad in a robust metal finish. The cladding materials are chosen for their sustainable credentials, with black stained timber cladding selected throughout which will help the building blend into the background of trees.

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