Thameside Nature Park Visitor Centre, Mucking, Essex.

This is a truly unique building in many ways, for a unique nature park. Literally floating on top of a recently restored (and still settling!) landfill site, the site commands panoramic views across the Thames Estuary and it’s internationally significant (RAMSAR) bird habitats, aswell as DP World Container Port. The building is round, with a gently sloping ramp around the edge to enable access onto the roof for visitors. Inside, the centre both looks out across the river, and huddles in, around a central woodburning stove.

The building had to overcome the challenge of being built on fundamentally unstable ground. The team worked closely with the engineers to develop a raft foundation with janks to enable the building to be re-levelled in the event of differential settlement. To our knowledge, this is the only building in the world built to last on a landfill site.

The Centre aims to draw together visitors with different interests, whether it be weekend family walks around the park, keen birdwatchers, shipping enthusiasts, or nature lovers.

The park aims to restore the natural wildlife habitats of the area and will be part of a series of green open spaces linked along the Thames.

James concept designed and developed the competition-winning scheme, and served as client and design-team leader.