Willmott Dixon began development of WWF’s new building, the Living Planet Centre, on the Brewery Road car park site in February 2012. The Centre is expected to be fully complete in Autumn 2013, when WWF-UK will relocate from its current Godalming headquarters.
The Living Planet Centre was designed to support the charity in achieving its mission – a future where people live in harmony with nature, within a fair and sustainable share of the planet’s natural resources.
So WWF’s new building aims to meet the highest level of environmental sustainability, with key features such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood throughout, solar energy, passive heating and cooling through natural ventilation, and water recycling. In addition, for the first time the charity will be able to invite visitors from the community, schools, businesses and government contacts to engage directly with staff and their conservation work worldwide through the ‘WWF Experience’ public area of the building.
After local consultations, Hopkins Architects designed the Living Planet Centre to sit on a podium above the public car park, which remains the property of Woking Council. No spaces are allocated to WWF. The two-storey building with its curved roof sits below the eye-line of the surrounding trees, most of which are retained within WWF’s landscaping plans.
The Centre will provide an open-plan workplace for 300 WWF UK staff, who will be encouraged to take public transport or cycle to work wherever possible, in line with WWF’s ethos. As well as the public area, there will be a 150-seater auditorium and an Education Suite so that pupils and teachers can take part in special visits and workshops within WWF’s schools programme.
As part of the Brewery Road development, Woking Borough Council is also replacing the Basingstoke Canal pedestrian crossing, with diversions in place until early 2013 as the towpath is closed for safety during construction. The new footbridge will provide improved mobility access via stairs or ramps for pedestrians, cyclists and disabled users on both sides of the canal, to the car park and to WWF-UK.
“At our community meetings most people ask about the car park and bridge, which remain the property of Woking Council and will re-open to the public next year,” stated Katie Randerson, Head of Brand Communications at WWF-UK. “We’re working closely with Willmott Dixon to keep neighbours informed. We’re looking forward to seeing the Living Planet Centre take shape and expect the main structure to be complete at the end of this year. So we’d ask people to bear with us during development, as we really believe WWF’s new building will be an asset to Woking and the local community as well as a fantastic way to help people understand and get involved with our work.”
Main works on-site scheduled for Autumn-Winter 2012 include constructing the roof and outdoor podium and installing the photovoltaic (solar) panels and wind cowls.
For more details visit wwf.org.uk/livingplanetcentre
Text and main image supplied by WWF-UK