The Studio McLeod and Ekkist are delighted to have been announced as winners amongst the strong set of competition entries. Kent Wildlife Trust put together an inspiring brief, and we are excited to begin working with them and local residents to craft a centre that benefits the wellbeing of People and Nature, and contributes to healthier communities.
BRIEF The aim was to create an outstanding, memorable and functional building, supporting wildlife, encouraging curiosity and engaging people in looking after nature. Designing a centre that could contribute to the wellbeing of its staff, volunteers, visitors and community was integral. The building was to act as gateway to the wider site and the existing lakes of the Sevenoaks Wildlife reserve.
NESTLING BIRDS Envisaged as three birds nestling together, the building embodies notions of nature, community and wellbeing. Each of the 3 elements house various uses divided into noisy, quiet and private. The layout ensures these functions can co-exist without disruption, providing for the needs of different users.
VIEWS We have located the building where the two lakes converge and paths begin, focusing on stunning views. As well as long views across the water, visitors can enjoy looking at the closely located wild observational gardens.
SUSTAINABILITY The building will have minimal environmental impact at all stages of its life, from construction, use, adaptation and possible re-use. Using a first-principles approach, the building will not need to rely on complex and difficult to maintain systems.
MATERIALS Materials are natural, sustainable and non-toxic. Rammed earth walls reference early Kent ragstone buildings and the history of the site as a former gravel quarry. Hempcrete insulates the walls while providing a breathable and characterful finish. Belfast trusses form a locally sourced and efficient structure, dappling light from above and referencing bird wings and nests. Like bird feathers, the chestnut shingles give each building form its own character.