Acle Bridge, Norfolk
An open competition for an exemplar visitor and education centre in the Norfolk Broads

Location: Acle Bridge, Norfolk
Size: 340 sqm
Status: Competition
Service: Architecture

In 2018, 5plus developed competition proposals for the new National Park & Education Centre at Acle Bridge, Norfolk. Our design focused on healing the damaged landscape and re-introducing a more naturalistic character to the site. Our proposals celebrate the sites unique location on the River Bure and as a destination for walkers, boaters, day-trippers and school groups.

Manipulating the existing waters edge allows the river to merge into the heart of the site and enhances biodiversity through the introduction of a network of native emergent species. Elevated boardwalks allow visitors to pass through the reeds creating an immersive experience that is unique to the Broads.

Excavated material is used to bed the building directly into the landscape, with engineered banks representing the dykes of the broads and creating habitats for native meadow planting. These dynamic moves and manipulation of character and form, aim to create a strong synergy between visitors and the surrounding landscape whilst providing habitats for indigenous insects and fauna.

The final move is the creation of a new educational landscape. Positioned above the visitor centre, a fully accessible roof garden accessed via the Weaver’s Way provides an elevated position affording long distance views. The garden space is planted with native species found in the upland areas of the Broads reflecting the drier conditions and different soil types found locally.

The structural design celebrates local construction processes whilst integrating modern state-of-the-art innovative construction techniques which maximize off-site prefabrication and minimise weight. With the use of Norfolk thatch and custom-engineered local flint cladding panels combined with cross laminated timber structural frames, the structural solution blends the heritage of regional materials with Industry 4.0 technology to give an optimised lightweight structural solution.