Adjacent to the Lighthouse in Woking, Surrey, and alongside the Basingstoke Canal, is the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Centre, opened in late 2013. The new building designed by Hopkins Architects sits above a car park which, sadly, had to be retained on site, with a new bridge connecting across the canal to the Lighthouse and Woking town centre. The two-storey building is planned under an elegant 80m long curved timber grid roof spanning 37.5m and houses open-plan offices for 300 staff, a 150-seat conference venue, education facilities for school visits and the WWF Experience exhibition.
Around the new building, existing trees have been retained and a new wetlands created to provide a wildlife corridor from the Basingtsoke Canal to Horsell Moor.
As is to be expected from a client such as the WWF, sustainability was of high importance and the new building has achieved BREEAM Outstanding. The design includes photovoltaic panels for solar energy, extensive use of glazing for maximum daylighting, recycled aluminium wind cowls for natural ventilation, grey water in the toilets and ground-sourced heat pumps. Extensive use has been made of timber from sustainable sources and the concrete and carpets are recycled, as is the computer equipment, much of which came from the 2012 Olympics.
The two buildings, the Lighthouse and the Living Planet Centre, set a high standard of architecture for Woking that hopefully will be continued with further developments in the town centre.
Internal photographs from Hopkins Architects.