Acle Bridge Visitor Centre

Norfolk Broads

The proposals describe a slender, timber framed building which draws its inspiration from traditional Broadlands vernacular architecture and boat building technologies. The building has a generous vaulted roof covering education, exhibition and cafe areas, which are filled with natural light from the glazed gable ends, long panoramic side windows and roof light above.

Whilst the design draws inspiration from traditional forms of building, with a thatched water reed roof, it is a thoroughly modern structure. The main structure is envisaged as a series of curved, cross laminated timber frames which allows the ground floor to be suspended well above the flood line. The building has a very low impact on the landscape, having a minimal number of footings and allowing the site to retain its function as a soak-away. In the event of a flood the building could continue to be operational due to its high suspended floor and floating ramped access.

The long building runs parallel with Acle Bridge, allowing the existing Locally Listed thatched building to be retained and access to the river moorings maintained. This orientation gives panoramic views across the marshes to the west and allows a south-facing cafe terrace to be cantilevered over the water, overlooking the river and boatyard.

The building’s reed thatched roof will slow rainwater run-off and reduce heat gains into the building in summer. This will also benefit wildlife and biodiversity on the site and has the potential to harvest rainwater for the WC’s. The long and relatively shallow plan of the building is ideal for natural ventilation. A small wood burner using wood arisings sourced from site is proposed to meet some of the heating requirements of the building.