Work has started on a floating visitor centre at the Brockholes Wetland and Woodland Reserve site, a 250 acre reclaimed wetland habitat near Preston.
Adam Khan Architects' concept was inspired by ancient marshland villages and comprises a series of low impact spaces that will float on the edge of one the main areas of water and includes a shop and restaurant promoting local produce, an education and exhibition space and an area dedicated to events.
The centre will offer visitors an opportunity to be as close to the natural wetland habitat as possible. The centre is hoping to achieve BREEAM outstanding status, a first for a visitor attraction in the UK.
The new visitor centre will open in 2011 as one part of the wider project to turn Brockholes, a former gravel extraction site, into a natural visitor attraction.
The project is funded by £8.6m investment from the NWDA under the Forestry Commission's land regeneration programme Newlands. Brockholes is owned and managed by Lancashire Wildlife Trust.
Sustainable design means the cluster of buildings will be constructed from FSC certified timber, recycled scaffold boards, solvent free resin flooring, low ultra violet value Okalux glazing and cleft oak shakes. A biomass boiler will provide the heating and electricity will be sourced from PV solar panels, whilst there is an aspiration to have additional energy supplied by a local water turbine.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust is working with the Forestry Commission and NWDA to realise the long-term vision for the site. This includes an outdoor play area, opportunities for canoeing, fishing, walking, running and cycling as well as developing distinctive and memorable natural habitats to increase biodiversity. The site was initially purchased in late 2006 with £800,000 NWDA funding.