Ian Simpson Architects Wins National Wildflower Center International Competition

The National Wildflower Center in Knowsley are to construct a new building at the existing complex with a RIBA design competition determining the architect.

The shortlist was announced in January and now RIBA announced the winning architectural practice:

Ian Simpson Architects with Adams Kara Taylor Engineers and Hoare Lea Engineers has been announced as winners of the competition to design a new innovative, architecturally striking educational, conference and seed production complex at the National Wildflower Center in Knowsley, part of the Liverpool City Region which is intended to be one of the first buildings in the country to be rated BREEAM ‘Outstanding’.

Following the shortlisting from almost 150 international entries at Stage 1, Ian Simpson Architects’ team, which also included Adams Kara Taylor Engineers, Hoare Lea Engineers and cost support from Cyril Sweett, fought off strong competition from the other five shortlisted practices, including:

*DM3 Architecture

*Kirkland Fraser Moor

*Nicolas Tye Architects

*Studio Verna

*Urban Salon Architects

Sue Carmichael, RIBA Adviser commented: ‘The six shortlisted practices in the rapid four week Stage two stage responded enthusiastically to both the generic and individual searching questions from by the panel designed to promote further evolution of the initial sketch concepts and challenge their deliverability.

After a full day of presentations and questions the judging panel unanimously decided that Ian Simpson’s team was the winning proposal. Their powerful fibonacci generated spiral solution has a dramatic wild flower head inspired conference center focus; a distinctive and memorable architectural statement cleverly combining the brief’s organic and mathematical themes. The compact building which tightly hugs the North West boundary extends a curved sweep to the wildflower garden which both welcomes visitors through its intimate external and internal ante spaces and also acts as strong counterpoint to the existing award winning Millennium building. The potent combination of The National Wildflower Center as a visionary client of high national reputation and Ian Simpson’s innovative concept backed by his capable team should result in a building which is a groundbreaking ‘green’ exemplar, an inspiring mathematics education resource and a favorite visitor and conference destination.’

Grant Luscombe, Chief Executive of Landlife said ‘I am delighted that the jury panel has selected the public’s favorite design. Inspired by the Fibonacci spirals that nature uses to place seeds on a seed head, petals on a flower and leaves on a stem, the building itself will help people understand connections between maths and nature. Entering the ‘flower head’ structure will be an inspirational experience by demonstrating how artists, architects and engineers over the centuries have used the simple angles and numerical sequences found in wildflowers.

Ian Simpson has designed a beautiful addition to our National Wildflower Center, thanks to North West Development Agency support and its commitment to sustainable development. As a result, I find it a really exciting prospect that Knowsley, the borough internationally acclaimed for making new wildflower meadows, will now also become home to the greenest conference venue in the country.’

Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), who have helped to judge the competition, said: ‘The winning proposal is a stunning and powerful design which will work well with the existing buildings at the National Wildflower Center. This innovative new complex will not only help to significantly improve the National Wildflower Center offer, but also aims to provide a unique learning environment for visitors. The NWDA is looking forward to seeing the winning design progress to the next stage.’

Ian Simpson, Director of Ian Simpson Architects said ‘We are delighted to have won this international design competition which has underpinned our commitment to an integrated approach, combining truly sustainable design with beautiful architecture.’

Read the competition brief.




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