Durley Chine Environmental Innovation Hub
A Passivhaus certified model for low-energy, reclaimed architecture
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The Environmental Innovation Hub is located at Durley Chine, one of Bournemouth’s internationally recognised Blue Flag beaches. This highly insulated, Passivhaus certified, timber framed education, welfare and exhibition space commissioned by client BCP, is a beacon for low carbon innovation and what can be achieved when you move beyond the traditional construction pathway. The building is designed to be Net Zero in operation and has been design with low embodied energy construction.
Some of the key features include a structure of reclaimed groyne timbers, a living roof canopy of native plants, decking from a decommissioned German submarine base, newspaper insulation, and a kiosk completely constructed from locally sourced sand and aggregate inspired by the local geology of the cliff, using cement substitute throughout the structure.
With around 2,000 tons of waste removed from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s beaches every year, the hub will be a centre of focus for BCP Council’s efforts to educate and change behaviours along the seafront. The project aims to contribute towards BCP’s ambitions to become a Green Economy Leader by helping to achieve a step change in the reduction of single-use plastics and increased levels of recycling along our stretch of coastline. It will achieve this via partnership working with seafront businesses, major public and private sector organisations, the academic and volunteer sectors. In addition, there will be marketing campaigns to promote behavioural change, an immersive environmental visitor centre and collaboration with BCP’s Smart Place Research & Development Consortium to collect an array of coastal environmental data to guide future innovation.
Driving the project is the council’s commitment to improve environmental waste management. With the current climate emergency being societies biggest challenge, the aim is to educate the public whilst displaying very visible eco credentials rooted in the hub’s rigorous concept development.
At the earliest stages of design Footprint Architects’ focused on reducing the environmental impact by quite literally reducing everything we could. Designing out unnecessary spaces or finishes, simplifying as much as possible, incorporating natural materials and reducing use of plastics was a priority to make this a success.
As a result the hub encompasses three structures united by a living grass canopy roof constructed from reclaimed groyne timbers from Bournemouth Beach front. These structures consist of a kiosk, public WC’s and a two storey education building (timber framed Passivhaus) which includes welfare facilities for the beach front staff.
The residual covered external space provides areas for public exhibitions to educate people on the importance of reducing plastic waste and keeping the beach and oceans clean. The proposal features an active ground floor frontage encouraging promenade users to interact with the structure and enter the visitor centre.
The cladding of the building takes immediate precedent from the beach huts on the site, where the upturned decks establish a rhythm of verticals and horizontals whilst making use of the limitations of the timber lengths available.