From more than 200 anonymous entries, Shiro Studio won the Great Fen Visitor Centre RIBA open Competition.
Our design for the new Great Fen Visitor Centre explored how Architecture can conspire with Nature to create a serene and confident juxtaposition between modernity and the rich and complex history of the fen landscape. We aimed to translate a series of appropriate and intimately relevant words into Architecture.
natural • warm • community • education • inspire • functional • sustainable • traditional • contemporary • light • permeable • protective • adaptive • responsive • tactile • remote • connected • respectful • humble • memorable • rich
Our proposal embodies and reflects the heritage and stratified history of this land through the unique blackness of the fenlands’ peat and its black timber-cladded vernacular barns. The building is an architectural manifestation of the different functions offered by the Centre and utilizes a visual and sculptural language that will be instinctively familiar to visitors. The multitude of different functions is reminiscent of how a small village is organized; where each separate architectural volume covers a specific role, closely knitted to its neighbour.
Energy self-sufficiency is achieved by using proven technologies that blend harmoniously with the building. Black mono-crystalline PV panels installed on selected roof surfaces will provide the main source of energy required, and geothermal energy will power air heating and cooling, and hot water - eliminating the use of fuel-based boilers. In addition to these technologies the building benefits from passive solar gain and reed bed water filtration.
The wider landscape within the 27 hectare site area is a mosaic of fenland habitats (as part of the fenland restoration works). Immediately surrounding the Centre are a series of ‘microcosms’ of the wider fenland landscape of colourful plants, water and reeds.
Client: The Great Fen Partnership
Site Area: 9,000 m²
Built Area: 830 m²
Cost Consultants: Equals Consulting
Landscape consultants: Mesh Partnership