Located in the heart of Cambridgeshire'sGreat Fen, this competition scheme for a new visitors centre provides facilities for education in heritage and ecology relating to the reintroduction and conservation of natural fenland landscapes in East Anglia.
The essence of the scheme is based on a series of thatched boxes or ‘bales’, constructed with material harvested from the site, distributed atop a simple platform containing many of the more private programmatic elements of the brief. A simple horizontal roof plane floats above, covering the bails, supported on a grid of timber portal frames extending out into the landscape. The linear, horizontal outline of this ‘barn like’ pavilion, reminiscent of the low-lying Fenland landscape which it inhabits, is broken only by one thrusting vertical element providing a counterpoint to the otherwise largely two dimensional surroundings. In addition to anchoring the building to the site, this viewing tower provides orientation both to and from the centre as well as providing bat hibernaculum, roosting areas and bird boxes creating a ‘living tower’