The Welcome Building RHS Garden Bridgewater
The Structural Award winner is The Welcome Building RHS Garden Bridgewater, chosen from all the shortlisted buildings. Judge Andrew Lawrence comments, “An important new public building that uses the well detailed timber structure as the centrepiece of the architecture. The structural solution provides for the necessary long spans and openness, whilst creating a warm and dramatic interior space.”
Sitting within the new RHS garden on the site of 154-acre Worsley New Hall, The Welcome Building is predominantly one open space that acts as a gateway to the gardens but also contains a visitor meeting and interaction point, restaurant, gift shop, offices, and educational spaces. The design is a horizontal composition that responds to a commanding horizon defined by the elevated canal and low-lying landscape, creating a linear strike in the landscape.
All public elements are contained under a single overarching glulam timber diagrid, supported on structural glulam trees. The roof extends beyond the enclosure to the north and south, blurring the edge between building and landscape, where it turns up and down at its edge, responding to the location of entrances, expressing specific uses, framing views, and forming solar shading. The horizontal form is broken by projecting timber boxes that sit below the main roof line and house prescribed uses such as kitchens, WCs, offices, and classrooms.
The timber forms extend east beyond the building with a timber decking floating over a new lake. Externally, the roof is clad in vertical larch while the projecting boxes are clad horizontally. Glazed curtain walling spans between the ground and roof. Natural light permeates through larch louvres, or filters through the diagrid via two rooflights.
ArchitectHodder + Partners
Structural Engineer RoC Consulting
Wood SupplierProwood Ltd, Stora Enso, Russwood
SpeciesSiberian larch (Russia), European spruce (Germany/Austria)
ClientThe Royal Horticultural Society
JoineryReds Joinery Ltd
Roof StructureHESS Timber GmbH
Building services & sustainability consultant Hoare Lea