The Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre on the edge of the Cotswolds sits within a natural reserve housing the largest private collection of trees and plants in England. The collections at Batsford cover a wide range of plants from all around the world, with an emphasis on the Far East. The new visitors’ centre houses a garden shop and a terrace café, with an impressive wavy roof as a true eye-catcher.
An unusual design needs a perfect fit
Architectural practice John Falconer Associates envisioned a structure that would make the new Batsford Arboretum visitors’ centre blend seamlessly and organically with the surrounding landscape, using as many natural and renewable materials as possible. The result is a great example of sustainable architecture. The building is made from sustainably grown and FSC-sourced timber.
For the roof, John Falconer Associates presented an unusual and challenging ‘wave’ design made in plywood, emulating the rolling Cotswold hills. The roof also had a low profile to minimize its visual impact on the landscape and reduce energy consumption.
The roofing system presented some challenges: it had to be lightweight and flexible enough to perfectly follow the curves of the plywood roof deck and form clean edge details, ensuring a perfect waterproofing function. The idea was also to allow rainwater harvesting, which was a logical solution for such a rainy region. Last but not least, the roofing system had to be in line with the project’s overall environmentally friendly and energy-efficient approach.
The architects choose to use EPDM roofing membranes. Thanks to their stable chemical composition, they offer high resistance to UV radiation, ozone, alkaline rains and extreme temperature fluctuations. Robust yet flexible, EPDM roofing membranes adapt to the structural movement of buildings during their entire lifetime. With a life expectancy of more than 50 years, they are also the most sustainable roofing membrane in the market.
In addition to its longevity and outstanding waterproofing qualities, EPDM is a chemically inert material which does not contain any plasticizers or flame retardants and therefore does not release toxic substances into the environment. This makes EPDM roofing membranes particularly well suited for the collection and use of run-off rainwater, as is the case at the Batsford Arboretum’s visitors’ centre.
The EPDM roofing membrane used in this project was Firestone’s RubberGard EPDM, with a thickness of 1.1 mm. The membrane was fully adhered to the irregular, wavy shape of the plywood roof deck using bonding adhesive. To harvest the rainwater, the roof outlets were set into large sumps in the low points of the curves. Water is then collected in irrigation tanks below the main building and is used to water the plants in the garden centre.
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