Sevenoaks Nature Reserve
In late 2017 the RIBA launched a competition on behalf of the Kent Wildlife Trust for a new visitor centre at the Sevenoaks nature reserve. Re-using a disused gravel pit the pioneering nature reserve covers 73ha and has a roughly equal proportions of water and land. It includes five lakes and a mixed habitat of ponds, seasonal flooded pools, reedbed and woodland.
The brief called for a new visitor centre to replace inadequate facilities currently on site. In order to minimise the impact on the site and provide an economically efficient solution our proposal retained the existing buildings as storage units and located the public facilities in a new cluster of floating pavilions. The pavilions could all be prefabricated and floated into place, and by rationalising some of the buildings on land the size of the nature reserve was increased. The pavilions were timber framed and clad, using chestnut from the reserve. The pontoons were formed using pre-cast concrete.
Location: Sevenoaks, UK
Team: Ambra Chiesa, William Matthews
Illustrations: Filippo Bolognese