The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country gets planning approval for their eco classroom and volunteer building
RIBA Work Stage
EcoPark has been cultivating wildlife habitats and helping children and adults learn about nature since 1997. 20 years later, the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country are hoping to replace their portacabins with a purpose-built eco classroom and facilities for their staff and volunteers.
Each year, 8,000 children are inspired by the wildlife they encounter on their visits to EcoPark. It offers opportunities for children in this inner city area to get hands on with nature and discover the wonders of the natural world for the first time.
The Wildlife Trust inherited the existing portacabins and storage sheds from the previous land owners. These buildings provide shelter for the charity’s staff and volunteers, but there is nowhere for children groups to enjoy activities inside when it’s raining. The Wildlife Trust want to improve this area of the site and enable children to enjoy EcoPark no matter the weather.
Our design proposals seek to improve the setting of this ecologically important site by replacing the poor quality, temporary buildings with purpose-built spaces using natural and sustainable materials. Timber shingles would clad the walls and roof of the building. The wall facing the entrance to EcoPark would be covered in a habitat wall (inspired by EcoPark’s own bug hotel) so the building can also become a home to wildlife. The pitched roof would enable the installation of photovoltaic solar panels, continuing EcoPark’s renewable energy strategy.
The new classroom would have its own covered deck, with sliding doors, so children can enjoy the open air even if it is raining. The classroom roof is higher to create a high quality learning space with roof lights under the canopy of an English Oak, so children can feel like they are sitting under the trees. The form of the roof has been angled to taper away from and protect the tree canopy.
Now the designs have received planning approval, our fingers are crossed for the Wildlife Trust of Birmingham and the Black Country to raise the funds they need for their new building.