Google+ London Architecture Blog: Week 14/13 Feature #7 Thames Chase Community Forest Centre, Upminster

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Week 14/13 Feature #7 Thames Chase Community Forest Centre, Upminster

Thames Chase Community Forest visitor Centre.
Thames Chase Community Forest Centre
Architect: Laurie Wood Architects
Date of construction: 2005. Rebuilt in 2010 after it was destroyed by a fire in 2008.
Location: Thames Chase Community Forest, Broadfields, Pike Lane, Upminster, RM14

Thames Chase Community Forest Visitor Centre is a new education and resource centre for the 40 square mile forest on the eastern edge of London beside the M25 at Upminster. The centre provides visitor facilities including a shop, cafe, exhibition space, outdoor seating, office space, as well as education spaces and facilities in neighbouring seventeenth century barns.

The design of the new barn is informed by the layout and form of the existing barns and landscape and uses natural materials to minimise its ecological footprint. The A Frame is constructed from glue-laminated timbers and is clad in cedar shingles. The existing barns were restored as part of the project and feature exposed timber frames and glazing looking out into a small courtyard. The exterior consists of contrast between red clay tile pitched roofs and solid black painted horizontal wood panelling.

The new building is accessed through a pyriamidal glazed entrance foyer which leads into the shop which sells a selection of stationary and reference material. Beyond this is the centre cafe, an open plan space which contains views of the surrounding landscape and in summer can be opened up to reveal further seating outside. On the first floor level is a number of administrative offices. The neighbouring barns are accessed through a glazed corridor and contain education and exhibition spaces as well as catering and support facilities.

In August 2008, the building was struck by lightning and caught fire. Although, the fire brigade managed to save the neighbouring barns, the new centre burnt to the ground. It was rebuilt by Laurie wood Architects with a few alterations and improvements and reopened in 2010.

The building won the RIBA East – Architecture for tourism 2005 award.

Thames Chase Community Forest

The existing barn (left) and the new visitor centre (right)
Entrance to the new visitor centre
Construction details
Corridor between the existing barns and the new visitor centre
Detail of the eaves
Entrance to the gift shop

Seating in the cafe

Education space inside the converted barn

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