The four clear aims and achievements of the wider Dynamic Druridge project were to inspire and engage people about nature, to build a new sustainable wildlife discovery centre and to recreate and reconnect habitats to increase biodiversity.
Located on the North East Coast, the site is on the Hauxley Nature Reserve which was an old open cast mine.
The site sits astride the high wall – the old edge of the open cast mine – so settlement is unpredictable and old tree roots and old unknown Victorian mine workings might add to the settlement irregularity.
A solution was developed that avoided huge amounts of concrete and deep piles, and instead, an adaptable building that would absorb some movement was designed. The whole building is intended to open up to the site – lifting roof lines to the sides embracing the reserve, and gently references a bird in flight with a nod to motion with sequential roofs.
The open axis core of the building is about taking people into the landscape, into nature, to look closer. This idea continues through viewing portals, big picture windows and small details and art works.
The building also had to be of the 21st century but that was still ecologically focused.
As with many elements of the project, an important objective was that of demonstrating the possibilities of using an unskilled workforce; using widely accessible and affordable components yet still producing a high quality building of architectural interest. The project also made use of galvanized gabions as a primary structural component for the first time in the UK. The structural engineer utilised the experience of Haiti, post the 2010 earthquake.
Galvanized gabions were chosen as the key foundation link structure for the project as they were ‘fillable’ by the volunteer workforce – the central corridor is a tourde- force – and moveable by a single person.
They also accommodate movement as the whole strategy of the structural design was one of adaption to the complex brownfield site. The galvanized solution in this location provides a cost-efficient solution, that was both humble, easy to transport to site, suitable for the location for the longevity of the building, and easily adjustable to suit the changing site conditions.
Read the case study about the Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre.