A+G Architects recently took part in a competition held by the Norfolk Broads authority to design a visitors centre near Acle on the banks of the river Bure. The brief was to provide an exhibition space, café, facilities for boaters and provide an accessible, sustainable building that incorporated flood resistant measures.
Our aim was to design a Visitor Centre that would capture the excitement and thrill of boating and celebrate the natural beauty of the Broads, that would especially appeal to children, young people and local residents - who would not otherwise have the opportunity or inclination to visit.
Our proposal was intended to instil a sense of excitement upon the approach - the dramatic form of the ribs of timber frame projecting upwards like the skeleton of a shipwrecked boat – tall enough to just appear into the view of cars approaching the bridge and visible from a distance to the walker or boater.
Views from the education space on the upper floor across the broads would give a unique location from which to tell the story of the broads and their unique history and environment.
Timber steps from the café veranda to the river front across the width of the building create a place to sit for picnics, to watch boats chugging past or a performance on the floating stage opposite. The stage, linked to the river front by a bridge would provide a unique space for a range of activities. A place to launch small boats and kayaks or a performance space for outdoor theatre, live music, a river festival…
In the event of flooding, the visitors centre is protected by virtue of its height above the floodwater. Floodwater will be able to freely drain under the building.