The Visitor Centre at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex was completed in 2004, on time and under budget. The property, leased from the National Trust, is run and operated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and is home to the critically acclaimed Millennium Seed Bank.
Our new building provides this very popular garden with improved visitor facilities to meet its high demand. It offers a sense of arrival and helps orientate and link visitors to all areas of the estate, providing information on the cultural and natural heritage of the site. Inside are information and ticket points, toilet facilities, catering facilities, a shop, plant nursery and offices.
The centre is an elegant forest pavilion that respects the geometry of the existing significant buildings on the site and its sensitive landscape context in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The building conforms to good practice in energy conservation and makes a significant architectural contribution to the visitor centre typology. Architecture critic Hugh Pearman described this new generation of visitor centres as being the ‘truest architectural type of the 21st century.’ The building received an RIBA Award in 2005.