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Wilkinson Eyre sows seeds for £24m garden

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Wilkinson Eyre has unveiled plans for a £24 million Botanical Garden, which would enable the public to view Newcastle University's extensive plant collections. The 1ha project within Newcastle's Exhibition Park will include a 'Botanic Bridge' spanning the A167 dual carriageway, with research and educational facilities either side.

The bridge, spanning 50m, will combine a concrete soil-filled base with a 150m long x 17m wide lightweight glazed shell enclosing the garden and creating entrance canopies at either end. Excess heat gained through the glass skin will be retained in a buried rock store, while rainwater from the gutters will be used in sprays for humidity control.

The university is currently seeking project funding. Arup is the structural, civil and environmental engineer. Arup Research & Development is the cladding consultant.

The form of the shell is defined geometrically through the rotation of a parabolic arc about an axis, producing a shape similar to a bicycle wheel. A slice was cut from the ring to reveal the undulating form of the roof, allowing for the use of repetitive components.

Superimposing the footprint of the building onto the globe gives a suggestion of the strategy of organisation according to latitude.Tropical plants from the equator are clustered in the middle, with plants from desert latitudes at either end, allowing visitors to acclimatise before entering the central zone and minimising heat loss from the centre.

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