The new purpose-built training building will greatly enhance the activities of Thrive, a charity that has been working within Battersea Park for 25 years, teaching gardening and life skills (horticultural therapy) to those with learning, physical, sensory impairment and mental health disabilities.
The design responds to a brief for a stronger visual identity for Thrive in the park, enhanced facilities that are economic and efficient to run, and excellent sustainability credentials.
The distinctive design replaces a collection of ramshackle huts and portacabins, and establishes a two-element building that curves to a radius centred on the large plane tree that dominates the site.
The first element is a glazed ‘orangery’ that forms an entrance space and circulation zone as well as a working area for ‘dirty’ activities. This space is designed to be left open to the garden all day throughout the year, accessed through ‘up and over’ doors. Unheated, this robust space is lined with plywood and benches, and can accommodate large numbers of muddy boots.
The second element consists of an office, training rooms, kitchen, shower and WC. These spaces are arranged under a taller mono-pitched barn-like roof. All rooms look out over the garden and have clerestory windows that give views up over the orangery into the tree canopy.
Photo credit: Simon Kennedy
Materials used include natural slate and larch for the exterior and exposed screed and plywood for the hard-working interior.
The building has been positioned to maximise the benefit from solar gain, and incorporates a natural ventilation strategy, solar shading and rainwater harvesting.
The design process involved considerable consultation with the user group, therapists, management, Trustees of the charity and the Local Authority. The resulting design features a number of intelligent interventions that ensure that the many different special needs of the users are met. These include: a design that allows Gardeners to come and go from the building all day without needing to worry about shutting doors or wiping boots; wide shallow tool stores so that all tools have an allocated space and are easy to find, aiding memory reinforcement; a window from the kitchen onto the working shelter so lunch and hot drinks can be easily passed out.
The gardens surrounding the building will be planted by Thrive Gardeners themselves, working to a plan created by the award-winning garden designer Sarah Price Landscapes. This was an early competition win for Sarah who has since gone on to win a gold medal at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2012, and is co-designer of the 2012 Gardens at the Olympic Park, London.
Kathryn Rossiter, Thrive’s Chief Executive, said: “It is fantastic for our gardeners and the extra space will allow us to help more people and offer them more opportunities.
“It is a flagship building for us on East Carriage Drive which is already attracting the interest of many passers-by.
“We plan to increase the number and variety of plants and herbs we can use and sell to members of the public. We are in such a fantastic position to sell our produce on this main thoroughfare and look forward to welcoming people.”
“Our challenge now is to raise funds to create a beautiful but functional garden around the building,” added Kathryn. “We will be working as closely as possible to a design by Sarah Price which will make fantastic use of the space.”
Thrive remains grateful to the many people who have donated funds towards the cost of the building.