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Grant Associates, landscape architects, design of The Hive Worcester Library

Grant Associates as Landscape Architects

The Hive is Europe’s first joint university and public library – a unique academic, educational and learning centre for the City of Worcester and its University.  The ‘BREEAM Outstanding’ project was designed by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios with a distinctive and sustainable landscape design by Grant Associates. 


Grant Associates’ landscape design brief was to create a high quality landscape environment that would become a distinctive and exciting visitor attraction -  a place which would capture a sense of history and place whilst reflecting on the contemporary themes of sustainability and technological innovation.


The landscape is based on a strong narrative derived from the local landscape of the River Severn, Malvern Hills and the Elgar trail that inspired Land of Hope and Glory and key storytelling themes:


- Nature uplifts the spirits - the landscape spaces are arranged to ‘enlighten and delight’ inviting visitors to experience the therapeutic qualities of nature, an encounter with birdsong, scented plants, colourful wildflowers and dragonflies.


- Healthy water for sustained life - demonstrates to visitors the importance of healthy water for life and the ability of natural systems, not man made chemicals, to take care of this.


- Knowledge and Heritage - creates a special sense of place derived from the primary circulation route The Causeway.


The two-hectare site comprises a series of islands and belvederes overlooking two landform basins containing rich local damp meadow and The Causeway, an extension of the city wall route, routes circling around and through the Centre.  Highlights include:


The Water Meadow


A wildflower water meadow is the principal landscape, a resource for environmental education, robust enough to deal with seasonal flooding from the river, with low maintenance demands. Locally harvested seeds from a site of special interest include cowslips, orchids, fritillary’s and flag irises.


Sustainable Drainage System


The water meadow also serves a practical purpose dealing with sustainable urban drainage; filtering rainwater and surface water through reed bed swales and working with the environmental engineering of the building by virtue of the evaporative cooling process with prevailing south-westerly winds.


Habitat Islets


Two habitat islets emerge from the water meadow. One reached by bridge from the children’s library creates a place where children can read and be informed in a stimulating natural environment surrounded by the wonder of nature, scented plants, wild life nests and a mini orchard. The second is a wildlife haven with large canopy trees and coppice-planting providing secluded nesting and roosting and includes the rare Black Poplar Trees.


The Causeway


A safe and secure network of pedestrian friendly routes circle around and through the Library and History Centre, broadening out to form seating terraces or outdoor rooms such as the café terrace by the Belvedere. The route includes seating areas, and a causeway bridge and footbridge to connect adjoining sites.


Peter Chmiel, director, Grant Associates said: “The landscape of The Hive Worcester Library and History Centre aims to be an leading example of sustainable design, including SUDS drainage, water attenuation, productive urban gardens, locally sourced materials and plant species, and careful landscape management to enhance species diversity and ecological richness.”


The landscape of The Hive Worcester Library and History Centre aims to be an leading example of sustainable design, including SUDS drainage, water attenuation, productive urban gardens, locally sourced materials and plant species, and careful landscape management to enhance species diversity and ecological richness.


— Peter Chmiel, director, Grant Associates


UK’s first purpose-built joint-use library to open in July

FCB Studios (Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios) as Architects

The Hive which will open in July is the UK’s first purpose-built joint-use library serving the University of Worcester and the County that incorporates the county archive, a local history centre, accommodation for the County Archaeologist’s team and a ‘one stop shop’ for the local authority: It’s a pioneering response to the challenge of providing a wide range of public services in an age of austerity whilst promoting social and environmental sustainability.


The distinctive form is a response to the project partners’ aspirations to create a beacon for learning in the city centre, a counterpoint to the Cathedral on the edge of the floodplain to the River Severn. The Hive forms part of a new city block which incorporates an accessible route connecting the city centre, via the top of the medieval city wall, to the new Castle Street University campus – it is designed to entice passers by to come in and explore.


Sustainability was a high priority throughout: The Hive maximises daylight and natural ventilation via the seven iconic roof cones that echo the undulating ridgeline of the Malverns and the historic kilns of the Royal Worcester pottery. Water from the river Severn provides peak cooling and locally sources biomass provides heating. The building is designed to adapt to climate change predicted by UK-CIP to 2050. It has an A rated Energy Performance Certificate and confirmation is awaited on whether it has met or exceeded the requirement to achieve BREEAM Excellent.


The roof structure was designed using award winning software developed for the project which allowed the form to be constructed from solid laminated timber: This generated a saving of more than 2000 tonnes of CO2 compared to the initial design in steel and concrete.


The exterior is clad in a scaley carapace of copper alloy. Inside the palette of concrete and ash is animated by colours drawn from the palette used by Royal Worcester.


The development includes extensive new public realm with both hard landscape (using locally sourced Forrest of Dean Pennant) and planting which draws on indigenous species to create a new and rich habitat for wildlife.


The Hive, which was procured via a PFI process, is a testament to teamwork; from the inspiration of the Project Partners who identified the opportunity to create a generous new public facility to the creativity of the design team and the tenacity of the contractors it demonstrates that by sharing a vision and pulling in the same direction the UK construction industry can deliver extraordinary buildings.


Vital Statistics


1.34 ha site 12,371m2 gross external area £29.7m total construction ex vat, fees, external works and FF+E £2400/m2 15.8 CO2/m2/yr 4.3m3/m2 at 50 Pa air tightness 40% GGBFS in cement

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