Hodder + Partners has released images of its design for a new Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) garden near Salford
The Manchester-based practice’s proposal would see the creation of RHS Garden Bridgewater, the society’s fifth national garden, in and around the existing walled garden on the 64ha site of the former Worsley New Hall on Leigh Road.
The plot, owned by developer Peel Holdings, had previously been earmarked for a competition-winning hotel scheme by Allies and Morrison, which landed the scheme in 2012 after seeing off Ian Simpson Architects, Hopkins, Cullinan Studio, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Henning Larsen Architects.
Peel abandoned the hotel plans in late 2015. The masterplan for the new RHS garden was conceived in 2016 jointly by Cullinan Studio and award-winning landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith who has designed eight gold medal-winning gardens Chelsea Flower Show.
Hodder + Partners won a separate competition for the Wellcome Building within the masterplan last summer, submitting a planning application to Salford Council in December.
The hall, designed by Victorian architect Edward Blore, who created the façade of Buckingham Palace, was built for the first Earl of Ellesmere between 1840 and 1845, with landscape architect William Andrews Nesfield involved in the development of its gardens from 1846. The building was demolished in the 1940s after falling into decline following the First World War.
Hodder + Partners’ project includes the development of a welcome building to house a gift shop, ticket sales and entry facilities, plant sales, a glasshouse, a café, kitchen and learning studio.
A 19th-century stable block would be converted to a café and offices, while former potting sheds, built in 1840, would be renovated to house retail units selling plants. Other work would include the creation of a ‘curator’s garden’ to explore innovative planting, a 47m-wide horticultural yard, a compost site, a new lake and visitor gardens.
Stirling Prize-winning architect Stephen Hodder, chairman of Hodder + Partners, said the conversion of existing structures presented an interesting challenge but that the Welcome Building (visitors’ centre) was the ‘architectural jewel’ of the scheme. He said the building seemed an extension of the existing walled garden and would be a ‘very horizontal’ construction that sat against the backdrop of the Bridgewater Canal.
‘It’s essentially conceived as a very, very flexible umbrella structure beneath which the various component parts, whether it be the gift shop or café, can grow or contract depending on seasonal variations [in visitor numbers],’ he added.
The RHS announced in 2015 its intention to develop a fifth garden in the northwest of England as part of a 10-year £160m investment programme. It hopes RHS Garden Bridgewater, the initial phases of which it aims to open by June 2019, will attract 700,000 visitors a year within a decade.
01 proposed masterplan