The Royal Parks has revealed the first designs for Architype’s new eco-friendly learning centre in Greenwich Park
Earlier this year the practice won an open competition to design the £1.2 million centre, which is part of wider multi-million pound project by the charity to conserve and enhance the historic south-east London park.
The proposed centre, which will provide views of Old Wilderness Deer Park, will be built close to the park’s Vanbrugh Gate in what is currently an underused contractor’s yard.
It will provide indoor and outdoor learning spaces and growing areas, public toilets, a drinking fountain, meeting place and information point for visitors.
The project, which falls within the Maritime Greenwich Unesco World Heritage Site, will also see the existing residential lodge at Vanbrugh Gate converted into a new public café with a kitchen garden maintained by volunteers.
Sustainability is key to the project. Design features include energy-efficient insulation and solar panels to generate heat.
Rainwater collection and efficient water use are also incorporated, while environmentally friendly natural materials will be used, and sourced locally, where possible. The insulation could potentially be made from recycled newspaper, straw bale, hemp and sheep’s wool.
James Todd, associate director of Architype, which was crowned AJ100 Sustainable Practice of the Year for the third time earlier this year, said the design would create ‘a new focus’ at Vanbrugh Gate and open up currently hidden views.
He said: ‘We’re celebrating the link to nature through every aspect of the building, including the use of natural and locally sourced materials.
‘The aim is to create a truly ecological building that serves the park for the future and acts as a learning tool: minimising both the operational and embodied carbon impacts from materials and construction, limiting the use of plastics, creating new habitats for wildlife and embracing a series of new growing spaces and gardens around the building.’
Graham Dear, manager of Greenwich Park, said the project was a ‘unique opportunity’ to create new green space in the park.
He said: ‘The community is very much at the heart of this project and we hope this hub will benefit locals in a myriad of ways through training, volunteering, learning and for social events.
‘These exciting, eco-friendly designs incorporate garden areas for growing, a living roof and bird and bat boxes, supporting biodiversity in the park and engaging visitors with wildlife by providing great views of the nearby Deer Park.’
The Royal Parks’ wider improvement project for the park has attracted initial support for a £4.8 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Community Fund.
The learning centre is subject to this funding. A final bid will be submitted at the end of August, with the outcome expected in January.