Environmental Education Centre
Awards: RICS Awards 2009 - Winner of the Community Benefit Award
The Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve was formed 8 years ago and is adjacent to the Severn Estuary. It is a designated site of international importance for water fowl habitat and for conservation of wild fauna and flora.
The Centre includes classrooms, conference facilities, staff offices, ancillary accommodation and an informal seating area with retail and café facilities. School children use the centre to explore their natural environment as part of the National Curriculum. The building is also used as a day conference facility.
The design acknowledges the ecological sensitivity of the area, creating a strong sense of place and identity through its relationship with the landscape and use of natural, sustainable materials. A series of axial pathways connect the building with the wider landscape and offer visitors a range of educational and sensory experiences. The building itself is a simple, single storey steel and timber structure which has been elevated above the ground to reduce the need for excavation of the site, to cater for possible flooding, and to allow newly formed water bodies and reed beds to run up to and around the building, offering visitors the opportunity to view wildlife close up.
Natural sustainable and locally sourced materials have been used including redundant steel piping for piles, FSC Certified timber and locally sourced sweet chestnut external cladding sustainable woodlands. High insulation values, natural lighting and ventilation, high efficiency M&E services, photovoltaic panels, solar panels for water heating and rain water harvesting all help to reduce energy use in the building which is rated BREEAM (Bespoke) Very Good.