2016 Langley Vale Visitor Hub, Surrey, UK
Project Team: Christina Doumpioti, Pavel Hladik, Michael U. Hensel, Matteo Lomaglio, Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel, Jeffrey Turko; ecological scheme and plant selection by OCEAN A|E.
The site of the Langley Vale Visitor Hub is in Surrey, UK. The Langley Vale Wood area comprises of ancient woodland, grassland and woodland creation that offers different habitats for a considerable variety of wildlife. A recent architectural design competition asked for the design of a Visitor Hub. The scheme submitted by OCEAN net consisted of an X-shape volume in plan, with two cantilevering volumes to the west. The cantilevering volumes provide multiple entry and exit points and the recognisably architectural face of the building, while the eastern elevation of the building is covered by a slope that is densely vegetated. The southern and northern elevations too are largely masked by vegetation. The visitor approaches the building from the south-western corner of the site and enters the building from below the south-western cantilevering volume, arriving to the centre of the building. From here the visitor can choose a path. One option is to ascend the ramp of the north-western cantilever and from there to exit onto the roof, which supports a grassland ecosystem that gradually turns into shrubs and trees that descend the terrain slope towards the east. From the roof it is possible to ascend a ramp back into the interior of the north-eastern leg. The experience of the architecture is organised through these routes that take the visitor various times in and out of the enclosure. Views of the landscape alternate with proximity to local species. The hub features various provisions for animal species along the densely vegetated Eastern perimeter that is inaccessible to humans, as well as in interstitial spaces along the entire perimeter of the architecture.