Studio Bloom | Architecture + Design
Visitor Centre | RIBA / Woodland Trust
Client: Woodland Trust
Area: 30 sqm
Status: Competition Entry
Collaboration with Guy Woodhouse
The proposal for a new visitor hub for the Woodland Trust in Surrey consists of two key elements: a brick perimeter colonnade, surrounding a crisp metal volume. The interior spaces are finished with a finely detailed timber lining. Both the brick and the metal provide a robust, yet high quality, external skin, whilst the internal lining both celebrates the potential of timber joinery construction and provides a warm, inviting interior, whilst avoiding the maintenance issues often associated with external timber cladding.
The brick colonnade provides a tactile, and almost vernacular form, which references the traditional built language of the area. The scale and regular rhythm provide framed views out of the building, and give an approachable, human scale externally. Key entrances are defined through the decorative lining of specific arches, giving a distinct sense of arrival, where required.
In contrast to the rustic brick form, the metal volume has a contemporary, almost alien aesthetic. Two light wells provide additional daylight to the two main spaces, and also create a distinctive sculptural form, acting as a beacon in the landscape. Some areas of rooftop ‘meadow’ soften the junction between the brick and metal elements.
Each arch of the portico frames a set of metal shutters. When the building is in use, these can be peeled back to expose glazing and door elements, but provide the necessary security when the building is unoccupied. The metal volume will be timber lined, adopting an architectural language that celebrates the potential of timber joinery construction.
The simple components of a brick colonnade, with pre-fabricated metal volumes, give an architectural approach that should be easily extendable, if required in the future.