Sevenoaks Wellbeing Center - Nature Engagement
2017 -Sevenoaks Nature and Wellbeing Center
Sevenoaks Nature and Wellbeing Center
AREA OF SITE
Nimrod Meir Levi, Miriam Waltz ( studio itouf)
A gateway to wellbeing through Nature Engagement
Harnessing the energy of a unique site of natural interest with an industrial past gives an ideal setting for a growing public eager to access the benefits of learning and activities that promote physical, mental and ecological well-being. The building, a gateway providing opportunities for engaging with the natural environment, has varying degrees of ‘shelter’ providing a smooth transition between inside and outside, movement and stillness. Carefully curated circulation routes, views, natural light and outdoor covered walkways link the main interior spaces.
Orientation, layout and relationship to Landscape
North-South facing, the building comprises of two main ‘sections’, the south 'Main Hall' and the north 'Wellbeing Center', accessed separately or together, linked by a walkway along which other functions can be found. The ‘spine’ gives access to views in all directions including both lakes, and a safe surface for guided walking treatments. A fully catered café in the mezzanine level above the reception is accessible by stair and lift. From above, even more dramatic views across the building and the site are enabled.
The entrance is located on the highest point of the natural topography allowing a low maximum building height and more functions on a lower level, such as the children’s play area reached by a flexible function deck joined by accessible ramps. The lower level includes an outdoor kitchen, children’s toilets, the maintenance section and dry timber store. The 'Wellbeing Center' is raised above the landscape on stilts. The meeting room and studio are opposite each other facilitating easy access for volunteers and staff. The studio can be expanded to incorporate the dynamic exhibition hall by opening a flexible partition.
The existing building, refitted with panorama windows, will house a botanical library and seed storage furnishing the terraced garden. There is ample storage provided for all of the main functions.
Materials and Sustainability
The walkway is built upon a high thermal mass, stone-gabion pedestal, echoing the site’s gravel pit past and is exposed on the lower level of the building providing animal shelter and bat hibernaculum. Along the walkway, the gabions at selected points raise above the 0 level becoming an exhibition wall telling the story of the site. The building is a glulam-timber structure oriented towards south for optimum passive-heating and natural lighting, ventilation and roof solar exposure for the solar panels. The other lower roofs are green roofs. Other non-structural walls will use hemp-crete which is ideal for insulation and carbon-sequestration, reducing the building’s carbon footprint further.
In addition to required parking, there is disabled parking close to the building. All levels are accessible by ramps at the required slope. Accessible toilets are provided for all functions.