Environmental Discovery Centre, Margam
Sited within a Grade 1 registered Historic Garden and Landscape of Special Historic Value the architectural objectives guiding the design of the Environmental Discovery Centre at Margam Country Park were framed within the conservation and management plan adopted by Neath and Port Talbot County Borough Council. This was to: create a sustainable flagship facility that celebrates the synergy between heritage, the built and natural environments; to create a stimulating fusion of education, entertainment and awareness; to create high quality educational, cultural and leisure facilities that are vibrant and attractive; to promote sustainable building and demonstrate renewable energy use, heat, power and water management to as wide an audience as possible.
The building is designed to be inclusive of all. The Centre is managed and run by the Fields Study Council, and used by a number of different targeted user groups, from age 3 to adult, at different times of the day, week, month and year, as well as providing open access to visitors to Margam Country Park. The building provides an interpretation centre and canteen for use by all visitors as well as an educational facility with classrooms and residential accommodation.
The scheme takes on the form of a series of pavilions linked by open walkways, to create a route through the site. This is a building that sits sensitively within its landscape and the surrounding treescape. The pavilions sit on columns above the ground, touching the site lightly and sitting within the trees for visitors to explore. The timber structure is clad in UK grown sweet chestnut boarding. The steel frame structure is finished in natural copper cladding. Major sections of the scheme were prefabricated, complete with interior finishes and craned into position.
The architectural commission for the project was undertaken in collaboration with ‘Design Research Unit Wales’, part of Cardiff University.
Client: Neath and Port Talbot County Borough Council Size: 3100m² Stage: Completed 2009 Awards: RIBA Award 2010, Consortium of Local Authorities in Wales Building of The Year Award, Commended in the Sustainability category.