WWF-UK has today opened its new Living Planet Centre and Headquarters in Woking, with sustainable landscape design provided by UK landscape architects, Grant Associates.
The landscape design approach for the 0.9-hectare site reflects a shared aspiration to develop a landscape and building that is integrated and responsive to the site whilst rooted in simple ecological design thinking. Highlights include:
The spirit of woodland
The spirit of woodland is drawn in to the landscape design by setting the new building carefully on the site so that the retained existing mature trees, including Lime and Oaks, encircle it. New tree planting comprises native species such as Lime, Oak, Birch and Rowan with the native understorey including Holly, Yew, Elder, Hawthorn, Hazel and Privet. The planting of woodland ground flora including Snow Drop, Blue Bell, Wild Garlic and Primrose will create an impressive and sensuous spring flowering display.
The enhanced woodland understorey planting reinforces the habitat link with the adjacent ancient woodland of Horsell Common and the Basingstoke canal wildlife corridor whilst the effect of the tree canopy surrounding the building at eye level ensures the views out of the building are predominantly of landscape.
The bin stores and cycle shelters within the woodland edge also provide opportunities for new habitats. Climbing Ivy and Honeysuckle effectively create living wall features that support a green roof of sedum and saxifrage species.
The entrance level introduces non-native species like Bamboo to reflect the global nature of WWF’s work. A restrained palette of ornamental grass and bulb planting complements the elegant lines of the building with flowering climbing plants such as Passion flower and Jasmine adding colour and scent to the railings.
Sustainable urban drainage system
A new wetland habitat and pond has been created by the integrated sustainable urban drainage system that attenuates water collected from the building roof structure and paved areas. It is hoped that this landscape feature including native marginal aquatic and wetland planting will attract some of the 21 species of dragonfly found in the nearby Site of Special Scientific Interest of the Basingstoke Canal.
Reaching for BREEAM Outstanding
WWF-UK wants the new Planet Living Centre and Headquarters to demonstrate organisations can operate in a sustainable way. The two-storey building aspires to reach BREEAM ‘Outstanding’, the highest classification of sustainable design achievable in the UK.
Designed by Hopkins Architects, the building has a curved, diagrid roof just visible at the level of the surrounding tree canopy. Inside it is full of energy-efficient environmental features, such as ground-source heating and a system to recycle fresh water.
Danny Nagle is the Project Landscape Architect, Grant Associates managing the sustainable landscape design.
Andrew Grant, director, Grant Associates said:
“WWF is all about respect for nature and biodiversity and we wanted to reflect this in the landscape design of its new Living Planet Centre and Headquarters. The end result is a rich and stimulating, yet simple and functional landscape setting that will be enjoyed by the employees of WWF-UK, the residents of woking and by public visitors.”
Robert Hardy, Executive Director of Operations, WWF-UK, said:
“The Living Planet Centre was designed to be below the level of the surrounding tree tops. I am delighted with the work that Grant Associates have done to blend the landscape and Living Planet Centre in to our surroundings.”