Will Adams Centre, birdwatching centre and observatory Kent

The Medway estuary is a haunting and beautiful place where wading birds gather at low tide and there is sufficient darkness to observe the night sky. The competition called for a new educational resource centre for birdwatching and an observatory located on the contaminated industrial ground of Bloors Wharf, between the soft Kent landscape and the wide mudflats of the estuary.

The proposal treats the surface of the Wharf as a third landscape between marsh and mud. By a process of scraping and laying down, new topography is imported onto the concrete using ground from the marsh to cap the contamination and create, in the marsh, a landscape of swales into which willows are planted. The new ground creates continuous access across the site through a low-lying linear zinc-clad building and a complex series of spaces and gardens which conceal public spaces and human beings from the mud for the privacy of wading birds.

The shells of large wharf buildings are transformed into contained gardens for solar power or wharf plants. A large shallow hill formed from locally sourced flint contains the space of the wharf.

This winning scheme turns a scrapyard in the marshes into a magical landscape . . tidal tanks, mirror like pools, blossom from the orchard and a wind garden . . . all testify to a painterly concern with capturing the passage of time and the ebbing and flowing of the land’s edge

Rob Bevan, Building Design, 1997

Awards & Publications

  1. First Prize Winners, RIBA International Competition
  2. Winner: International Competition
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1 Drawing Will Adams
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  1. Client: Kent Architecture Centre
  2. Related projects: Olympic Greenway