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View: Grid List
Client
University of Cambridge Botanic Garden
Location
Cambridge
Size
2,800sqm
Contact
Carol Costello
Team
Buro Happold, Max Fordham LLP, Gardiner and Theobald

An elegant, expressive and evocative teaching and conference building for the University of Cambridge Botanic Garden.

 

Education and Interpretation Centre

The Education and Interpretation Centre is designed to be a public place providing facilities to educate and interpret the University of Cambridge’s Botanic Garden to visitors as well as uniting the Garden staff in new offices.

The Centre accommodates a variety of functions – dining areas, exhibition spaces, offices and conference facilities – while building in flexibility for future change of use.

The gothic arched shape of the lamella structure is evocative of the Glasshouse architecture, tying the building in to a lineage of heroic garden architecture, whilst also being conducive to natural ventilation, good daylighting and solar shading.

The Centre is designed to be an exemplar of sustainable design which is to be demonstrable to visitors and to the city of Cambridge.

Creativity

The building has been designed so that the individual components – floors, roof, columns – come together to form an integrated structure. For example, the first floor level also acts as a horizontal diaphragm. This diaphragm transfers the forces from the lamella roof back to the cross-beam, which works as a tie. In turn, the cross-beam supports the floor and frames the columns below.

The lamella roof structure is formed of a repeated pattern of interlocking short timber members. The prefabricated members are relatively small, easily transportable and easily handled for on-site assembly.

Roof studies

Climate

An important part of the brief was the requirement for a building that demonstrated its environmentally passive design.   

Sustainability within the building structure is demonstrated through material choice, efficiency of structure, flexibility of the building, longevity and durability.

In use, the building would rely on thermal mass, optimised day-lighting and natural ventilation to reduce dependency on non-renewable energy resources. A rainwater storage tank would provide 80% of the annual water requirement for toilet flushing. The orientation of the building would allow for a photovoltaic array along the full length of the south side of the roof.

Collaboration

We designed the Centre in collaboration with Buro Happold structural engineers and Max Fordham environmental engineerings. We worked as a team to develop the timber lamella roof structure – an extremely efficient structural concept.