Acle Wildlife Centre
Architect (+ Aga Filipowicz, George Pickering, Otis Sloan Brittain)
Broadland District Council
04.2018 - 05.2018
The new visitor centre at Acle Bridge is a contemporary landmark building inspired by the unique landscapes, ecology and architectural vernacular of the Norfolk Broads. The building is a ‘gateway to the Broads’—not only due to its accessible location at the confluence of key walking, sailing, car and bike routes, but also as a welcome pit-stop showcasing the ‘Story of the Broads’: an interactive exhibition celebrating the history and nature of the national park.
The new visitor centre is sensitive to the local landscape both through its choice of natural materials inspired by the vernacular construction techniques of the Broads and integrated, low-maintenance sustainability strategies. Materials were selected for their low embodied energy and high thermally insulative properties to minimise heating demand. Recycled and up-cycled materials have been specified in the material pallette, such as the recycled newspaper covering on the ceilings, a technique inspired by the Brockholes Visitor Centre in Preston.
Future flood risk due to the effects of climate change and the broadside site is a key consideration and informs the building’s raised structure. The prefabricated glulam frame was chosen for its cost effective and hard-wearing properties and reduces the volume of concrete required compared to a raft foundation. Channels beneath the structure, specialised planting and absorbent materials slow down water runoff during high rainfall events to minimise flash flooding. Greywater is filtered through the landscape and used for flushing toilets and in the wet heating system supplied by the reed biomass boiler.