In the summer of 2016, chadwick dryer clarke studio was invited to participate in a limited design competition held by the Botanic Garden and University of Cambridge Estates. Their winning solution which was a collaboration with structural engineers Smith and Wallwork, provides an accessible viewing platform overlooking the systematic beds, with an exhibition area below.
The Rising Path has been devised as a gently sloping path that leads off from the established path network, taking visitors through the maturing conifer collection of the New Pinetum. The interpretation hub at ground level provides engaging displays drawn from the Garden’s archives to encourage visitors to explore the Systematic Beds.
The green space enclosed by The Rising Path provides a group briefing space and area for public events. The shape of the structure is an irregular spiral developed from a circular plan. Its distortion and rotation is a result of the structure avoiding tree roots, trunks and the university’s data infrastructure. Using BIM 3D modelling from the outset, the sculptural shape developed; considering both the visual form and structural requirements: a true collaboration between architect and structural engineer.
The structural frame is formed from galvanized steel with principal members made from laser cut curved 10 mm plates. The curved stringer has changing radii throughout the sweeping ellipse. The 90 mm CHS columns are fixed to concrete free specialist hand driven steel pile footings. These enable the foundations to be positioned close to the trees and within the root protection zones.
The timber decking and cladding of The Rising Path is in Accoya timber, selected for its durability and stability. Accoya is modified Radiata Pine, a species which coincidentally grows adjacent to the new structure. The importance of the site, alongside the sustainability criteria for the project, meant that the choice of materials; galvanized steel and timber were of utmost importance.