Visitor Hub, Surrey

Inspired by the growth of trees and their interweaving patterns, the building conceptualises a journey through a woodland glade.

The Visitors’ Hub holds the south west corner of the site. 

Following the footpath that leads from the newly proposed car park to the north, the path continues into the building, leading visitors to a central woodland courtyard which is the heart of the building. 

Names will be applied to the perimeter of the woodland courtyard as a celebration of the people who have had trees planted in dedication of their role in the First World War, and for those who have had trees planted for other occasions. 

The open plan cafe lines the perimeter of courtyard encouraging visitors to explore the exhibition / education centre.

The courtyard offers visitors protection from the elements while still retaining an outdoor connection to the surrounding woodland.

Both the education centre and community hub are oriented to maximise views towards the proposed war memorial to the east.

In order to maintain a low profile within its context, the building is on one level, the exception being the community hub which is set down to allow visitors to observe the surrounding woodland and wildlife from a different perspective.

The building is split into two parts so that it can function manned or unmanned, while still allowing visitor access to some of the facilities.

Large circular perforated roof lights cast diffused light into the centre of the building creating a dappled effect emulating light filtering through a tree canopy.

Inspired by a forest setting, the external structure is symbolic of a tree canopy, set proud of a row of arched openings in the facade which sit behind vertical louvres. The effect is designed to give the impression of depth.

The glazing has an applied leaf frit patten which increases in density to the southern elevation to help reduce solar gain.

The tree like canopy structures to the perimeter act as water collectors, the water harvested is intended to be used for greywater supply to the building. In addition the flat roof structure is ideal for utilising solar photovoltaics.

The structure is predominantly timber with a pre-patinated “tree root” textured concrete to the floor and external cladding.

The repeating structure has the potential to reduce cost through the simplicity of the design and construction, as well as offering the opportunity to easily extend the building. In this way it resembles the natural growth of the surrounding woodland.

Small Project Architect of the Year 2016

RIBA National Award Winner 2015