Situated overlooking the Severn Estuary, the reserve is a designated site of international importance for its range of estuarine habitats, associated flora and fauna and the populations of over wintering and migratory waders and water fowl, and has established itself as a beautiful home for some of Wales’ most stunning wildlife.
With the importance of the wetlands having been established, the RSPB decided to build an environmental education and visitor centre as a base for interactive learning. School children now use the centre and teaching facilities to explore their natural environment as part of the National Curriculum.
Families, single parents and wheelchair users alike have found the centre and reserve a safe, accessible and fascinating place to visit.
The buildings are also used as day conference facilities by local businesses. Seventeen new jobs have been created in addition to an increasing number of volunteers helping on the site.
This simple yet striking building respects the ecological sensitivity of the site in which it is situated, creating a strong sense of place through its relationship with the landscape. Natural sustainable materials have been selected for durability and appearance. Large windows enable visitors to view the reed beds and water bodies that surround the building.
During the nineteenth century nearly 90% of Britain’s copper smelting capacity was based in South Wales. In respect of this, Tecu Oxid copper cladding has been used alongside sweet chestnut external timber cladding sourced from sustainable UK plantations.
Large roof overhangs help to protect the building from potential heat loss through excessive wetting and from solar gain in glazed areas.
High insulation values, natural day lighting and ventilation, high performance building systems, photovoltaic panels and solar collectors ensure the efficient and economical use of energy in the building. Rainwater harvesting is employed to minimise water use. The building has been rated BREEAM very good.
The Centre has become an invaluable community resource and a very popular gateway to some of Wales’ most stunning wildlife.
Main contractor: Stradform Ltd