The project involves the design of new visitor, interpretation and educational facilities providing access to the Avalon Marshes, a vibrant, working landscape, celebrated for its rich wildlife, heritage and culture, at the heart of Somerset’s levels and moors.
The Avalon Marshes is characterised by a landscape of meadows, small woods, reed-beds, lakes, pools within which lie scattered villages and isolated houses. The marshes are one of the finest remaining wetlands in Britain providing a home for a rich diversity of flora and fauna including Kingfishers, Bittens, the Great White Egret and the seasonal murmurations of starlings and Wildfowl. Viewed from above the landscape is criss-crossed by a myriad of ditches, rhynes and waterways that represent over 10,000 years of human land management which has left a uniquely rich archaeological heritage miraculously preserved in the waterlogged peat including prehistoric track-ways and lake villages.
In response to the highly sensitive nature of the landscape the building is deliberately low-lying and capped with a green roof-scape of indigenous planting. The strong horizontal emphasis is juxtaposed with a series of vertical elements, timber boarding and window mullions which resonate with the standing staves of the adjacent reed beds.
The single large volume of the exhibition, clad in black-stained vertical boarding, provides a subtle anchoring form in the landscape with the secondary functions composed either side to form external spaces for outdoor eating and education, the containment of which minimises their impact on the surrounding landscape.