Cory Environmental Visitor Centre

A new perspective on nature

In 2009 we won an invited competition to design a new visitor centre for the proposed Thurrock Thameside Nature Park for Essex Wildlife Trust. The park is a redevelopment of the former Mucking landfill site, aiming to restore the natural wildlife habitats of the area, and is part of a series of linked green open spaces along the River Thames. The Visitor Centre provides information and education resources for all visitors to the park as well as providing a place of rest, a cafe, a shop and spectacular panoramic views from the main hall and roof. The innovative circular design demonstrates low energy sustainable design and technology for visitors.

‘PEOPLE LOVE THIS BUILDING’Steve Beary, Centres Management Team – Cory Environmental Centre

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  • Project Details

    • Location: Essex
      Client: Essex Wildlife Trust
      Area: 380 m2
  • Project Awards

    • Winner - Design and Innovation - RICS East of England Awards
    • Winner - Leisure and Tourism - RICS East of England Awards
    • Winner - Project of the Year - RICS East of England Awards
    • Shortlisted - RIBA Awards
    • Project of the Year - RICS Awards Grand Final

Our concept was for a drum shaped building with a distinctive presence in the landscape, incorporating a spiralling external ramp taking visitors as high as possible to maximise views in all directions.  The building is clad in timber and surrounding by vertical timber fins, with their varying spacing not only screening visitors from local wildlife, but also moderating daylight levels and solar gain internally.

The essence of the environmental and building systems strategy is one of conservation and simplicity.  The building’s form inherently conserves heat by minimizing the external envelope, while access to the perimeter for all spaces allows excellent daylight penetration and natural ventilation.

Heating demands have been mitigated by using high standards of insulation and air tightness.  A log boiler provides all the heating requirements for the building, supplied by locally sourced timber, cropped from nearby Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve.  Within the main space, the wood burning stove provides a focal point, and a rapid reaction heat source to help manage sharp temperature swings.

An innovative structural solution, designed by Price & Myers engineers, allows the building to be jacked up to compensate for the differential settlement in the landfill on which it sits (potentially up to 300mm over 15-20 years).

The new building now provides visitors with information and a resting/gathering place before exploring the new Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, which has become a key element in the wider ongoing regeneration the Thames Gateway.

Project Timeline

  • 2010

    Concept design

  • [Date]
    Design development
  • Pre-Construction
  • Structural Design

    Price & Myer's engineers' innovative design for an adjustable structure to adapt to settlement

  • Materials

    Maximising use of low-carbon materials

  • Construction
  • Opened by Sir David Attenborough

  • 2012