A new Nature and Wellbeing Centre at the heart of the Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve forms a circular clearing in the surrounding woodland that provides a gathering and orientation point for visitors. It’s simple continual geometry links and unifies all aspects of the centre in a single collective gesture that maximises connections through the trees to its spectacular lakeside setting.
The circular form defines an arrival and orientation point from multiple directions, by local rail, car or long-distance footpath, connecting all the centre’s operations under one roof such that each component can operate individually or as part of the whole, with a continuous, mutable exhibition route, part internal, part external, threaded around the loop. It is a consolidated node from which all the wildlife paths radiate and loop – a true centre for the reserve.
The key elements of the centre’s program are housed in ‘hides’ that project out through the trees to overlook the reserve’s two main lakes, whilst minimising the presence and impact of the building on the birds’ habitat. Visitor activity is held within the elemental form, which acts as a filter to the pristine nature of the reserve beyond.
Primary spaces are carefully clustered in such a way that the centre can operate with a minimal staff presence. Studio and cafe ‘hides’ are orientated to the north to maximise the quality of views, whilst avoiding glare. Southern clerestories flood these spaces with light and announce their presence within the circle.
Treatment rooms are positioned over the west lake, capturing indirect light reflected from the water below to enhance the meditative quality of these intimate spaces.