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THE PARK: Visitor centre, Thames Barrier Park Patel Taylor Architects

The visitor centre/cafe is a landmark in the new public park. The design reconciles the architect's concept - a lightweight glazed pavilion with views over the park - with the client's fears of vandalism.

The building is a single storey and is divided into two contrasting parts; a core - containing kitchen, storage, and WCs - encased in fairfaced cast in situ concrete panels, and a lightweight structure - the cafe - of oak columns and glazed walls.

Visitors pass through the core to reach the cafe, which is set on a raised deck of grooved Balau timber planks and defined by a colonnaded portico of green oak columns.

The glass walls are set in from the outer row of oak columns, and made up of fixed panels with sliding oakframed doors. When the cafe is closed, a roller shutter of perforated steel slats descends in front of the glass, to deter vandalism, its 50mm steel guide rails inset in grooves at the sides of the columns.The space between the shutters and the glazed walls is used to store chairs and tables.

The green oak columns are flitched at the top with cruciform flitch plates to the main roof structure, a series of 254 x 254mm UC beams.

The flitch plates run in grooves and are bolted to the columns with exposed stainless steel bolts. A 425 x 100mm oak fascia beam and 152 x 89mm steel channel above it conceal a wide gutter of mastic asphalt.

The columns are flitched at the base to a steel plate bolted to the concrete floor slab.

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