Visitor centre, Sevenoaks
The Kent Wildlife trust was looking to replace their 1970s visitor centre, expanding their programme to accommodate exhibition and learning spaces for visiting schools, a conference centre, cafe and estate management facilities. A dense woodland of Beech and Silver Birch has been established around two lakes with a series of winding footpaths offering glimpsed views out to the water.
Given the sensitive context the concept was to tread lightly by breaking up the programme in to a series of discrete pavilions and sitting these in existing gaps between trees. Complementary activities would be clustered together around informal gathering spaces. Inside the buildings a visual connection with the canopy would be maintained through large roof lights whilst picture windows would highlight the previously glimpsed views to the lakes. As a space where people may dwell for a long time, the café would occupy the privileged position on the edge of the lake.
The materials of the pavilions would reflect the simple ones already present; timber and corrugated metal. Vertical timber cladding and piers echo the thin verticality of the tree species surrounding, whilst the corrugated metal brings a suitably rough aesthetic. The ageing of these materials would allow them to blend yet further into the woodland.