England/ Liverpool
National Wildflower Centre competition entry

From Seed to Bloom,

CONCEPT

“A tiny seed is left in the courtyard next to a well, from where it drifts into the water. Turning into a creek the water carries the seed into the wild flower garden. On its way to the pond it blossoms into full bloom.”
A sculpture in the courtyard and the dome at the end of the garden, symbolising the “seed” and the “bloom”, borrows its geometry from the perfect shape and structure of a coneflower.
The gentle curves of the new building are in contrast to the very straight linear building on the other side of the garden. The buildings enhance each other and form a very exciting space for the garden in-between.

The dome is a wooden structure reflecting the pattern of the centre of a coneflower as well as embracing the traditional structure of greenhouses. Crossing the pond you arrive in a semi-open hall with a circular staircase leading to the lower and upper floors and to the roof which serves as an open-air green platform within the dome-structure. From here you can climb up even further to a viewing gallery providing fabulous views into the park.

AREA PROGRAMME

The dome accommodates two enclosed floors of teaching and conference facilities. Below ground are located public toilets, a cloakroom and boiler room.
The production facilities developing along the park are somehow separated from the garden by a green pergola giving shelter to the main path. Walking on the path will take you to the greenhouse and other production facilities. The existing storage facilities are very well connected to the production zone.
Towards the dome is a small seating area next to the pond at which tea and coffee are available to visitors and staff. Its façade can be opened providing more seating space on the steps leading to the pond.

BUDGET AND STANDARD

This concept is for a discreet, environmentally intelligent and Low-Tec architecture. The design was carefully developed within a team of excellent quantity surveyors and environmental engineers to meet “Breem excellent” criteria within a construction budget of approx. £3.5m.

ENVIRONMENT

We choose wood as our main structural material that is renewable, sustainable, and reliable over the long term. Almost all materials will be according to ecological standards and therefore recyclable.
The production facilities will have an extensive green roof to reclaim parts of the landscape, which is now covered by the new building. Several light tubes will provide additional daylight to reduce the demand for electricity and keep the green roof area to a maximum.
The roof surface of the existing warehouses will be covered with solar panels providing energy for the Wild Flower Garden Centre and a surplus for sale to the national grid.
The pond is collecting rainwater to be used for the Wild Flower Garden Centre including the greenhouse.
The heating system will use geothermal technologies in order to use renewable energy sources that are reliable over the long term.
A composting system as well as an overall waste management system will also be an important component of the project.

The main target for the project is to have no negative impact on the environment due to zero CO2 emission, low energy demand and the use of renewable materials.

Client: RIBA