At the beginning of the year Roundfield were asked by architects Gruff Ltd to collaborate on a joint submission for the Great Fen Visitors Centre design competition. The brief for the competition called for “an exceptional building [together with associated infrastructure and immediate landscape works] that is in tune with the project’s overall ambitions, the qualities of the site, the fenland landscape and to be an exemplar of sustainability both in construction and use.”
Our work with Gruff produced a submission that was both sensitive to the fen landscape context as well as the need to work within budget constraints to create a focal point for the visitor experience. A microcosm of the wider landscape within an internal courtyard is enclosed by the building on three sides with the open side directing visitors out towards the fen beyond into which they can venture via a series of boardwalks.
“The boardwalk takes the visitor out into the wider landscape. Exposed at times and hidden at others, by gently undulating the walkway views can be lengthened and shortened to provide a different perspective of the habitats along the route. At some points miniature flora may be the focus of attention while at others the drama of a big sky may be the magic moment of the day. Satellite points joined by the boardwalk some distance from the visitors centre can act as destinations for mini adventures out into the expanse of the fen. These outposts could also provide opportunities for a seasonal schedule of attractions.”