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WilkinsonEyre to build science hub for Royal Horticultural Society

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WilkinsonEyre has designed a science and public engagement hub for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in Surrey

The AJ100 practice is behind the National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning at Garden Wisley near Woking.

The RHS said the scheme, which is backed by National Lottery Heritage funding, would support delivery of its science strategy.

Facilities within the centre will include laboratories, exhibition space, teaching studios, an events hall and storage for the RHS’s nationally significant collection of preserved plant specimens.

More than 1 million people visit Garden Wisley every year.

The two-storey, 4,750m² building will be located at the Hilltop site within the overall 97ha attraction.

New landscaping has created specialist science and education gardens to act as living laboratories. WilkinsonEyre designed the centre to blend in with these, enabling learning to take place both inside and out.

The building will be arranged within two concrete and steel framed volumes linked by a double-height glazed area. Both wings will be clad in sustainably sourced, naturally weathering sweet chestnut timber, while the pitched roof will be clad in standing seam metal with a matt finish.

The RHS said the structural grid of the two perimeter wings would be articulated on the main long elevations as recessed demarcations on the cladding finish.

At first floor level, the windows will have an expressed frame projecting from the timber cladding to provide solar shading. The central public engagement space will have a bifurcating pitched roof and cantilevered canopy that reaches out into the landscape as the primary architectural feature of the north entrance.

WilkinsonEyre associate director Geoff Turner said: ‘The building is designed to seamlessly integrate with the gardens to accommodate learning both inside and out.

‘We hope the new centre will enable a better public understanding of some of the hidden collections of the RHS as well as providing optimum facilities for the important horticultural science work it undertakes.’

Work has now started on site, and completion is anticipated next year.

Meanwhile the society’s new Welcome Building at Wisley is set to open on 10 June this year. Carmody Groarke carried out the initial design worked and saw the scheme through until planning.

However, after approval, a new project team involving KSS Architects was brought in on the Design and Build contract with Buckingham Group. That team included ARUP, NG Bailey (M&E), GP Studio and Alan Nuttall Partnership.

A wider landscape masterplan for the whole Wisley site was created by Dan Pearson, developed by Christopher Bradley-Hole, and designed in detail by Matt Keightley and Ann-Marie Powell.

Hodder + Partners two years ago revealed images of its design for a new RHS garden near Salford in the North West. RHS Garden Bridgewater will be the society’s fifth national garden when it opens next year,

Back in 2013 Carmody Groarke landed the job of overhauling RHS HQ, the Grade II-listed Lindley Hall in Vincent Square, central London.

WilkinsonEyre's National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning for the RHS in Surrey

WilkinsonEyre’s National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning for the RHS in Surrey

WilkinsonEyre’s National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning for the RHS in Surrey


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Hodder and Partners have designed the Welcome Building for the new RHS garden near Salford, they did not design the garden. The masterplan for the garden was conceived jointly by Tom Stuart-Smith and Cullinan Studio.

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