On The Wing: Nature & Wellbeing Centre

On The Wing is an architectural, material and environmental design strategy that addresses history, nature and sustainability to create a place that enriches biodiversity and rehabilitates the local environment.

The Centre and associated buildings are made from natural, low-maintenance materials with low embodied energy, (clay tiles, timber structure and boarding) using simple repetitive architectural elements overlaid with organic structures, patterns and systems.

The buildings reflect two primary influences: traditional Kent barns, and the wings of birds and bats in flight. The flexed bones, membranes and sinews in a bat’s wing, and the diamond structure of feathers, have inspired organic structures that will form a symbol of the wildlife reserve.

The overhanging roofs direct rainwater into constructed wetlands, which also purify grey water from the buildings. Reed beds filter out contaminants and discharge into pools. The wetlands are also used to help heat and cool the buildings by using a heat exchanger or water source heat pump.

The cross-laminated timber (CLT) roof structure evokes the construction of local barns, and is designed to harmonise with natural forms. A repetitive 1.5m spacing is used for vertical elements, which keeps the structure simple and cost-effective. Habitat walls are created in the unglazed sections, using recycled timber from the site. Timber boarding is used for ceilings and floors and CLT is exposed internally.