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Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent

A place of shelter, education and interpretation for visitors

Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent
Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent Credit: Brotherton Lock

RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA South East Award winner 2021


Adam Richards Architects for English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund
Contract value: £935,000 
GIA: 200m2
Cost per m2: £4,675

This is a very good example of repurposing an existing structure in a creative way to sustainably generate income that supports the current use.
Located in the grounds of a Kent castle, the project combines a café in a repurposed old greenhouse with a new build, 70m² learning centre. The collection of small buildings has been carefully positioned using existing sight lines, and is almost unnoticeable behind an existing tree when viewed from the Tudor fortress. 

The understated, well-detailed new building fits a huge amount into a compact space, providing a comfortable and engaging space for education for all kinds of users and age groups. 

Brickwork and the shape of the windows reflect the neighbouring historic buildings, with the ‘vitrine’ window taking cues from the original fortification’s Tudor gun embrasures. 

This project offers delightful little surprises everywhere. Changing ceiling heights respond to the functions and volumes of the spaces, while unobstructed views from the carefully aligned windows provide visual connectivity to the nearby gardener’s shed, or the seated gathering space, which is formed from the cleverly detailed concrete base of the building.

Care and consideration is given to the use of the spaces. These are comfortable, and practical issues such as storage have been well resolved. The education building opens onto a kitchen garden that supplies produce to the new adjacent café.

  • Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent
    Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent Credit: Brotherton Lock
  • Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent
    Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent Credit: Brotherton Lock
  • Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent
    Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent Credit: Brotherton Lock
  • Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent
    Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Kent Credit: Brotherton Lock
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Contemporary detailing of the little café references the historic building in its materials and form. It re-uses an existing lean-to timber-framed glasshouse to create a light-filled and spacious, yet carefully articulated, space serving visitors to the castle grounds.


See the rest of the South East winners here
And all the RIBA Regional Awards here
See other RIBA National Awards 2021 winners, Culture, here

 

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