The essence of our vision for the visitor’s centre is to fully integrate the new building into the site both physically and spiritually. Our concept is to allow the natural landscape to embrace the building and flow over and around it with an accessible extensive green roof. Positioned adjacent to the reserve, we can maximize views from most spaces within the building out to the water. The landscaped roof will meld gently into the existing topography and vegetation, minimizing visible physical impacts to the existing natural features of the site. Allowing easy access to the roof by integrating walking paths (that will also be handicapped accessible) and giving visitors an elevated vantage point to view out across the reserve will also greatly enhance the opportunities to appreciate the site and its varied features. Creating a central gathering area on the new roof will also provide a new central exterior location for meeting and appreciating the reserve.
We have opted to separate the facility for reserve management staff, volunteers and equipment to a small building in close proximity to the visitors centre. Located adjacent to one of the existing roads we have also designed this smaller structure to be buried into the existing contours of the site and also have an extensive green roof that gently slopes back into the existing topography.
As per construction materials, the building’s footings will be of concrete with 30% (max. allowable) recycled content and stabilized rammed earth for the main structure. The remainder of the construction will be reinforced concrete, which is largely maintenance free and long-lasting. Exterior arcade columns will be of heavy timber to echo the trees on the site.
We have also included a new marsh as a grey water filtration system with phytoremediation plants that will create the perfect ecosystem to purify the waste water before using it as an irrigation system for the green roof. To conserve energy, the roof will have a thermal insulation membrane under the layers of soil and plants, moisture-retention layer and aeration layers. This roof system will reduce energy costs, naturally absorb and filtrate storm water and be low maintenance by using appropriate vegetation native to the site.
We propose to use geothermal energy or a geothermal heat pump to maintain a sustainable climate inside the centre. This can be supplemented with minimal heating during the colder seasons as necessary.
Most of the exposed walls of the centre will be glass allowing for views out to the reserve and the wooded areas. The glazing system will be triple glazed lites of glass with partially operable sections for natural ventilation.