Brockholes Visitor Centre, England

Project: Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston

Brockholes Visitor Centre, an innovative floating building constructed using glulam timber and SIP’s from B & K Structures, has won the Commercial and Public Access category at the prestigious Wood Awards.

The awards encourage and promote outstanding craftsmanship, design and installation in wood, the world’s most naturally sustainable material, and the centre, which is part of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Brockholes Nature Reserve, was recognised for its creative use of timber throughout the building.

Comprising a cluster of five single storey frames formed by exposed glulam timber and Structural Insulated Panels (SIP’s), with oak shake cladding on the roof and larch vertical boards to the walls, the £8.6m development near Preston is constructed on a floating pontoon.  The structure was designed so that when water from the temporarily drained lake was slowly released back into the basin, it gradually began to float – a complicated feat of engineering but one that was executed with great success. 

Adam Khan of Adam Khan Architects designed the project, he said: “The challenge with a design like this was always to make it float and so we needed strong but lightweight materials.  Engineered timber was an obvious solution, as it gave us an opportunity to fabricate really exciting geometric shapes out of a durable and sustainable material.  I was really impressed by the products supplied by B & K Structures – they have provided some really amazing, beautiful pieces of timber and the overall effect is fantastic.”

The sustainable materials used in the project are in harmony with the natural surroundings, while the floating location enables visitors to interact at much closer quarters with the reserve’s wildlife.

B & K Structure’s Glulam Structural Timber was used as the main structural element of the buildings, providing a naturally engineered high load bearing solution, with strong environmental benefits.  Glulam is also exceptionally beneficial when it comes to the whole life cycle costs of a building, as it is naturally resistant to strong chemicals, therefore requiring practically no maintenance. 

The visitor centre has been greatly received since it opened to the public in spring 2011 and has welcomed a great number of visitors through its doors since then.

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