Great Fen is located 8 miles south east of Peterborough in the fenlands of Cambridgeshire. The fenland habitat restoration project at Great Fen, to is one of the largest restoration projects in the country, and aims to create a 3,700 hectare wetland and will connect Woodwalton Fen National Nature Reserve with Holme Fen National Nature Reserve. The Visitor Centre will form an integral part of the project, providing exhibition and learning spaces, as well as cafe, shop, toilets and facilities for the staff
The design of the Visitor Centre has focused on the building’s role within the landscape. Informed by local heritage, the building is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional fen settlement, well integrated into its surroundings.
As they approach the Centre on an adventure boardwalk, visitors can enjoy the wildlife. This boardwalk is punctuated by architectural ‘incidents’, or resting places, which encourage visitors to become close to the surrounding environment. The building itself acts as a striking starting point to explore the Great Fen, affording views across the rehabilitated landscape. It has an organic form based on the exploration of structures found in the natural world: we have used the shape of plant cells to create a modular building structure.
The Centre is to be built with local materials, fostering local employment, skills and craftsmanship. It will serve the region’s residents and businesses as well as enable tourists from afar to connect with the unique landscape.
Sustainability is at the heart of the proposals through:
– Use of locally sourced construction products wherever possible, including timber structure
and decking, hemp insulation, and reed cladding
– Biomass boiler using local reed waste as fuel. The feasibility of using Anaerobic Digestion
(AD) will be investigated
– PV panels
– Reed-bed filtration for cleaning the toilet drainage
– Biodiverse roof, allowing additional habitats to establish themselves to provide diversity of ecosystems
– SUDS drainage to roads and parking, linking to a series of swales as part of the landscaping
– Re-use of the existing farm track
– New planting of wet woodland and fenland plants