Acle Bridge Visitor Centre Competition - Norfolk Broads

We recently entered into a competition to design the new visitor's centre at Acle Bridge, in the Norfolk Broads. We were given the task of designing a canal side visitor centre that provided cafe space, facilities for mooring boats, an education space and an exhibition area in order to educate visitors about the history of the Norfolk Broads and the importance of water. The building was also to be designed in order to take advantage of the surrounding landscape, the largest protected wet land in the UK. 

We approached this project, designing what we hoped had the ability to be a landmark building for the Norfolk Broads Authority. Being in such a significant part of the country we took inspiration from one of the greatest pieces of architecture found in the Norfolk Broads, the wherry boat. We wanted to capture the wind filled sails that can be seen cutting through the reeds of the Norfolk broads in a solidified structure but in an abstracted manner. Due to the organic shapes created by the sails we thought it would be counter productive to begin with computer modelling. Instead, we started our

investigation using craft rock to create organic 'sail like' shapes. We were then able to establish numerous roofing schemes that we could use in the design of our building.

The result, we believe, is one that answers the brief while delivering a unique piece of architecture and in some way a part of the Norfolk Broads, in building form. We have proposed a collection of 'sail like' swooping curved roofing planes which create a dramatic and spacious interior. Large expanses of glass frame the outstanding surrounds while also flooding the building with natural light, while making the building more sustainable as a result of large solar gains. The concave roof planes also serve as grey water collectors allowing the building to be serviced by the water it collects. The roofing system itself is a unique system that we invented and pioneered in conjunction with structure mode (read our blog about that here). A cnc cut, LVL structural timber, self reciprocating, double curved timber roof with a stressed skin