The Centre for Organic Architecture
Following completion of a master plan for the headquarters site of Garden Organic - Europe's leading organic horticulture charity - we designed a new office building for their 110 employees, all previously located in a collection of portakabins. Garden Organic's work is to promote organic gardening and agriculture, and they have an expert staff who work very much like an academic institution.
The building is designed so that the organisation's various departments and knowledge centres are located in seven buildings around a courtyard, linked by a series of open, closed and glazed walkways.
Garden Organic / HDRA
The whole building itself creates a second, more public, courtyard between itself and the existing buildings on site. The main open walkway also borders one side of the main car park, helping to focus attention on the main site entrance.
At the outset the budget for this project was very small, with the first phase only able to house a fraction of the total staff. In order to allow for easy future expansion, and construction in a number of small phases, the building was designed in a modular fashion around a grid. The principal post-and-beam structure of engineered timber sticks rigidly to the grid, and is wrapped by a heavily insulated non-structural curtain wall.
The articulated plan, with glazed link corridors, and the glazed and open walkways have the effect of drawing the gardens into the buildings and vice-versa. In this way the building creates a variety of views through, to draw the eye and interest and encourage exploration.