The project is a revolutionary new £2.5m learning and resource centre, designed by leading sustainability architects Architype for Somerset College of Arts and Technology in Tauton, UK.
The purpose of the new Genesis Centre is to showcase a variety of techniques and materials for sustainable construction, by using them to construct the Centre and exposing them to view.
The building, which is a fully functioning conference centre, also demonstrates how sustainable materials and construction methods, including traditional methods and materials, can be used to create bold contemporary architecture. The Genesis Centre is a striking architectural statement which can be appreciated without reference to its construction.
An elegant central pavilion gives access into five smaller, separate pavilions - each built of different sustainable materials and exploring different construction methods: the Clay Pavilion houses the lecture theatre; the Straw Pavilion provides seminar rooms; the Earth Pavilion functions as the on site shop; the Timber Pavilion serves as an office block; the Water Pavilion houses the toilets and demonstrates the latest developments in water preservation.
The Genesis Centre now boasts the first fully insulated earth walls in the UK and the first group of seminar rooms to be built out of straw bales.
Sustainability has been considered from every angle - floor tiles manufactured from used car tyres, earth polished to look like plaster, hand basins fashioned from old yoghurt pots, ceilings insulated with shredded denim, timber walls insulated with shredded newspaper, and roofs which host their own bio-diverse environments.
The building is also unique in being an on-going experiment with evaluation of the methods and materials continuing throughout the life of the building to provide valuable research data for the construction industry
Speaking of the project Genesis Operations Director Ian Moore said:
“ Architype’s visionary interpretation of our requirement for a building which would serve as a platform for the delivery of knowledge and skills associated with sustainable construction has exceeded even our highest expectations.
Their design and use of an array of sustainable materials and concepts into this iconic and contemporary building is capturing the interest of the sustainable construction industry; is inspiring other designers; and is engendering the motivation that will ensure sustainable construction increasingly becomes mainstream.”
Architype Director Jonathan Hines, said: “The Genesis Project embodies many of the principles that define Architype and we worked with a passion, alongside equally committed partners, to create a radical building capable of pushing the boundaries of sustainable architecture in the UK.”
Funded by the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) and the Learning and Skills council, the new Centre will host a full programme of events, exhibitions and tours for students, professionals and the public.
Client: Somerset College of Arts and Technology
Structural Engineer: Whitbybird
Contractor: D B Russell Construction Limited
About The Architects:
Architype is an award-winning architectural practice with a passion for creating outstanding contemporary architecture using environmentally sustainable materials and methods. This, together with a robust response to every challenge and a collaborative approach, creates the strong individual identity and distinctive architectural signature that characterise Architype.
Founded in 1984, the practice now operates from two busy offices - one in London and one in the South West - and is currently working on a range of projects across the UK.
About the Client:
Somerset College is a general Further Education College based in Taunton. Over 14,500 students study at the College with over 1,000 at University level. Last year saw the completion of a four-year £15 million major redevelopment programme, providing the most up-to-date facilities for students and staff.
Somerset College is one of the government’s centres of vocational excellence in Construction (COVE), and the only one in the country which has received the award with “sustainability” in its title. The Genesis Centre is the College’s main feature of commitment to sustainable construction. The College is also pioneering an institutional approach to sustainability for education. Genesis, sited at Somerset College of Arts and Technology in Taunton, is a £2.5 million educational resource funded by the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) and the Learning and Skills Council.
Many Thanks for Cecilia Karlsson from Stratton & Reekie for the material.