The Sustainability Centre
- Client: The Earthworks Trust
- Architect: Architype
- Engineers: Price and Myers
- Quantity Surveyor: Gordon Hutchinson
- Landscape Visual Impact Assessment: TerraFirma
- Landscape Architecture: Staton Cohen Landscape Architecture
- Arboriculturalist: Professional Tree Services Limited
- Location: East Meon, South Downs National Park
- Project Status: planning achieved, client fund raising
Our consultancy service included developing a new landscape strategy and masterplan for the setting of the proposed new centre, to reflect the ethos of The Sustainability Centre.
The Client had a clear brief on the levels of sustainability they required, including the possibility of building much of the external scheme with volunteer labour. It was vital to the Client that we understood their needs and their philosophy. This was incorporated within the approach we applied and the solution we developed.
The process was complicated by the strong character of the site, with a form inherited by its previous use as HMS Mercury (Ministry of Defence). This had radically altered the historic landforms and treescape. Furthermore, the requirements of the Centre demanded an open approach to thinking about the landscape: with diverse functions of access, rights of way, environmental education, camping and green burial.
The scheme involved working in close collaboration with Architype to ensure that the setting was sensitively designed to embed the new building into the landform of the hill, whilst connecting with existing features and ensuring users of the Centre really connected with the experience of being within a unique landscape.
The planning process was demanding: the South Downs National Park took particular interest in the detail of the approach to the new landscape proposal, the views into the site and the long term landscape management.
In summary the proposal was for the new architecture to be physically and visually connected to the landscape, through the design, selection of materials and a dynamic inside-out connection, to ensure the philosophy of The Sustainability Centre was genuinely embedded within the built and natural environment. This included a striking new view to the building framed in the landform, Downland wildflower meadows, enhanced Forest Gardens beneath the canopies of ornamental cherry trees, informal meadow spaces for learning and a café terrace.