Location: London, UK
Client: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Timescale: Design completed in 2015
Size: 1,000 m2 and 550 m2
We completed two design exercises for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew during 2015 to establish potential building projects that would allow additional interpretation and a clearer entry experience to the park.
The proposal for Victoria Gate would resolve some of the current operational challenges, whilst minimizing any disruption to the existing built infrastructure. A new single storey building to the south would contain entrance facilities including visitor toilets, a small café and a membership area. This new structure would also create space for school parties in the form of two class / gathering spaces and general education facilities. The existing Victoria Plaza would be re-purposed as an exit experience, including new interpretation, enhanced retail and membership lounge. Just beyond the retained ticket booths a new information point and small ‘grab and go’ café would allow visitors to orient themselves. The new ETFE canopy design is based on an abstraction of the cellular pattern of the vascular system in plant roots. The project would dramatically improve the visitor arrival experience, create a more efficient ticketing and entry system, as well as maximising opportunities on exit for a final interpretation experience and membership and retail opportunities.
The high level classroom proposal would build on the fantastic success of the existing High Level Walkway at Kew by introducing new areas of interpretation about the internal workings of trees, to demonstrate photosynthesis and transpiration. At a lower level the existing ‘Rhizotron’ would be hollowed out and provided with a full height retractable glazed frontage, to bring daylight deep into the space. This would allow for both an interpretation area about roots and mycelium, as well as a new café with an outdoor terrace. A semi-covered new high level platform, linked to the existing walkway, would provide space to explain the incredible process of photosynthesis, set within the tree canopies themselves. This proposal would re-invigorate this already successful area at Kew.