Acle Visitor Centre

Client: The Broads Authority
Location: Acle Bridge, Norfolk, UK
Co-ordinates: 52°38’57.8”N 1°34’03.3”E
Status: Competition Entry
Year: 2018
Project Team: BoardGrove Architects
Images: BoardGrove Architects
Words: BoardGrove Architects

cafe  education centre  landmark  landscape  recreation  visitor centre  

The Broads landscape, in Norfolk, England, is characterised by reedbeds, grazing marshes and wet woodlands, a landscape partly created by human intervention through peat diggings and adapted in response to the changing environment of rising sea levels. As the climate continues to change and sea levels rise the landscape and the built environment will continue to adapt.

This proposal creates an immersive experience by combining a landscape with a landmark building that engages the visitors with the defining characteristics of The Broads. The proposal also improves facilities for visitors arriving by boat and refreshes the existing thatched roof building.

Upon arrival by bike, car or bus the first encounter is a long single pitched thatched roof building sitting within a new reedbed with a backdrop of wet woodland tree species – Black Polar, Alder, Willow and Birch. The building sits raised above the surrounding landscape with a small perforated steel boardwalk winding its way through the reedbed leading visitors towards the building.

The thatched roof has a large curved cut defining the entry and providing views past the Broads’ display space to the grazing marshes beyond. The display space is multipurpose and could be used in a variety of ways including exhibitions, talks and as a possible activity space to compliment the education space.

The education space has space for 40 students and has views across the landscape and to the immediate reedbed wrapping the building.

The cafe faces the River Bure with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The thatched roof drops low along the sides of the building coming in close contact with visitors. The low-slung roof helps to emphasise the horizon in the distance which in The Broads is consistently flat, broken only by farm buildings and trees. The curved roof opens up to the river capturing the big sky and its ever-changing appearance.