The Rising Path

The Rising Path

Parks/Gardens, Exhibitions and Pavilions
Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Cambridge CB2 1LY, UK - Build completed in 2018
Richard Chivers

The Rising Path

Chadwick Dryer Clarke Studio as Architects

The Rising Path is a competition winning structure for Cambridge University Botanic Garden. A dynamic spiral, the 96-metre long Rising Path features an interpretation hub and 3-metre high elevated viewpoint, designed to inspire visitors to explore the Garden’s Systematic Beds with fresh eyes and greater knowledge.


In the summer of 2016, Chadwick Dryer Clarke studio was invited to participate in a limited design competition held by the Botanic Garden and University of Cambridge Estates. Our winning solution provides an accessible viewing platform overlooking the systematic beds, with an exhibition area below.


Situated to the south of the Systematic Beds, the Rising Path has been devised as a gently sloping path that leads off from the established path network. The journey along and up the spiral path takes you through the maturing conifer collection of the New Pinetum. The landings are nodes along the path explaining plant evolution and family development using graphic text on the decking and information panels.


Arriving at the three-metre high viewpoint, visitors discover a stunning overview of the unique design of the Systematic Beds. The interpretation hub at ground level provides engaging displays drawn from the Garden’s archives to encourage visitors to explore the Systematic Beds. The green space enclosed by the Rising Path provides a group briefing space and area for public events.


The shape of the structure is an irregular spiral developed from a circular plan. Its distortion and rotation is a result of the structure avoiding tree roots, trunks and the University data infrastructure. Using BIM 3d modelling from the outset, the sculptural shape developed considering both the visual form and structural requirements: a true collaboration between architect and structural engineer.


The structural frame is formed from galvanized steel with principal members made from laser cut curved 10mm plates. The curved stringer has changing different radii throughout the sweeping ellipse. The 90mm CHS columns are fixed to concrete free specialist hand driven steel pile footings by Surefoot. These enable the foundations to be positioned close to the trees and within the root protection zones.


The timber decking and cladding of the Rising Path is in Accoya timber, selected for its durability and stability. Accoya is modified Radiata Pine, a species which coincidentally grows adjacent to the new structure. A collaboration between Gripsure, (the manufacturer of the timber decking), chadwickdryerclarke and Designmap have resulted in bespoke supergraphic text at the landings. This was the first time the decking had been used in this way with the text routed into the accoya and filled with antislip resin.

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