The Broads Authority today announced the winner of a competition which was launched in April this year. This was to help the Authority investigate and explore the potential for developing a landmark building at Acle Bridge on the river Bure to serve as a National Park Visitor and Education Centre. Architects had to consider a number of constraints and challenges for the riverside location which is historically a popular mooring site on the Northern Broads.

Broads National Park Visitor and Education Centre at Acle Bridge

How the winning Design for the Broads National Park Visitor and Education Centre at Acle Bridge will look from above.

The competition attracted 95 entries from around the world who were treated anonymously during the judging process. They were given the Broads Authority’s ‘vision’ for the site which included the importance of engaging the public in big issues such as water management, climate change, sea level rise and the need for sustainability. The site had to make provision for essential facilities including toilets, showers and refuse collection aimed at the users of the moorings. It also had to cater to local residents, visitors and school children alike.

Prof. John Last, Vice-Chancellor of Norwich University of the Arts who chaired the judging panel stated “The judging panel was impressed by the quality and ingenuity of the submissions; making it an incredibly difficult decision. We’re grateful to all those who took part in the process.”

Three architectural practices, Mills Power from London, Mole from Cambridge and Feilden+Mawson from Norwich were shortlisted and selected to present their designs to a judging panel. The overall winners Feilden+Mawson will present their vision to Members of the Authority today.

Jacquie Burgess, Chair of the Broads Authority, said “We have been absolutely amazed by the response to the competition. It is flattering to think that so many people put so much thought and hard work to help us create something special for the Broads.

“There was a tremendous variety of designs submitted and the judging panel must have had a very difficult job in shortlisting three and then deciding on a winner.”

Philip Bodie, the lead architect from Feilden+Mawson’s lead architect, Philip Bodie said of the announcement:

Inside the Broads National Park Visitor and Education Centre.

Inside the Broads National Park Visitor and Education Centre.

“Winning this important, high-profile competition means a huge amount to Feilden+Mawson. We are absolutely delighted and proud to have been chosen out of such a large number of entrants. Our Norwich-based design team is well acquainted with the beauty and tranquillity of the Broads National Park and wished to respond to the Authority’s design brief by producing a solution that was at once inviting, timeless, appropriate to its setting and completely familiar to those visiting the centre by water, on-foot, bike or road. It was also important to us that the building offered room to grow and be adaptable to future needs. Above all, in our opinion, it needed to be a visible beacon helping to teach and tell the story of the Broads National Park for generations to come.

“The design’s structure is regular, modular and extrudable and we are exploring a construction methodology that will minimise the time on site. Sustainability will be at the heart of the new facility not only in its build but also its servicing and future maintenance.”

The next stage in the project is the development of a full business analysis of the potential costs and income that such a facility could generate before the Authority commits to approaching funding bodies for financial contributions.

A copy of the winning design will be on view at Acle Public Library from 30 July onwards.