Ian Ritchie Architects and Gustafson Porter & Bowman were commissioned by the community of Terrasson to envisage a major series of new structures and interventions in the parc and cultural greenhouse. The initial designs are being used to secure capital funding and to enable the park to be self-financing.
The building, was conceived as the visitor centre and space for exhibitions and a public performance space for theatre, conferences, exhibitions and other community events. It was also envisaged as a peaceful sheltered space and tea house within the 5-hectare landscape designed by Kathryn Gustafson. It is now a national scheduled monument.
The steep incline of the site, and the need to retain the soil in the garden led to the idea of using ‘gabion’ – steel mesh cages holding stones – as the principal soil retention system in the park and for the greenhouse walls. The first ever use of gabions as architecture are freestanding curved vertical cantilevers and allow the building to “breathe” naturally and provide thermal stability. The wall is lined internally with plants and citrus trees. Environmentally, the greenhouse design engages with fundamental and proven approaches to energy. Its orientation, notably the glass roof, is such as to benefit from solar radiation. The building fabric creates its own internal micro-climate throughout the year and has no space heating. It is remarkably sustainable and of very, very, low energy consumption. The greenhouse leans symbolically against the hill. It’s clear, flat glass roof reflects, like a lake, the changing sky and the foliage of the surrounding trees.
The glass fixing is the world’s first application of a structural connection within the interlayer of laminated glass, allowing the surface to have no visible metal fixing.
The concept sought to highlight the contrast between highly processed and sophisticated glass and the unprocessed stone from the local quarry.