Great Fen Visitors Centre2013
The building, which takes it form from the Common Crane’s wing structure, appears to hover over the great horizontal plains which make up the character of Norfolk’s expansive landscape. Through observing the open land, Foster Lomas focused on the sheds and simple agricultural sheds whose low lying forms made legible punctuation points against the land. Hence the building drew on these elements, by introducing a singular gesture of the hovering roof which shelters the 360 degree viewing experience for the Visitors Centre. Visitors enter at ground level partly carved into the surrounding site creating ‘levies’ which protect visitors from prevailing winds. On entering the building visitors are drawn into a dramatic three storey atrium space. From this central locator the plan leads visitors through an arcing promenade which gradually reveals the activities, café and landscape. The roof and low eaves provide nesting areas for local flora and fauna. In order to provide optimum adaptability for future changes, the framed structural design can be reconfigured with ease. A full sustainability strategy includes rainwater harvesting and an earth sheltered ground floor to take advantage of stable ground temperatures. The roof will be clad with sustainably sourced accoya wood known as ‘pickled pine’ which provides exceptional durability and stability, with a 50 year lifespan. Externally the cladding will weather in accordance with its orientation thus creating a palette of weathering conditions.