Visitor Centre, Hornchurch

JGA+D was invited to tender for the design development of a new £800,000 visitor centre at Hornchurch Country Park for Essex Wildlife Trust.

Key to the success of the project was designing out vandalism wherever possible and making the building secure, whilst also welcoming for visitors. We drew on our experience from the RSPB Rainham visitor centre, and the Kaleidoscope Childrens centre in Lewisham. The building also has to mediate between the country park marshes, and the urban fringe. There is an opportunity and requirement here to produce a building which enhances the landscape and encourages an appreciation of nature conservation and the role of green spaces for play and recreation. The client also wanted a raised viewing platform, so we designed an accessible roof, which we’d already done at Mucking.

The result is a building which is part buried in the landscape, reducing the number of accessible openings, and protecting building surfaces with soil excavated from the site, thus reducing waste. The building opens up on the viewing side where it projects out over the marsh.