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Darts Farm open new natural bird watching hide with help from green roof architects

Posted on January 6, 2012

Grainge Architects have helped Dart's Farm Ltd build a new bird hide and educational area on site, outside of Topsham. Most green roof architects and designers tend to include green roofs on buildings to improve an outlook. Here the green roof was included to benefit the wildlife, and to help disguise the building from view, rather than drawing attention to it.

Following on from the original design of Darts Farm shopping village, Grainge Architects have worked on several smaller projects and extensions as the retail development has grown, including the Cotswold outdoor / RSPB building. Darts Farm ltd are keen to improve on their facilities and the new hide will help them do this. Adjacent to the wetland floodplain of the river Clyst is the new hide and teaching area next to the established fishing ponds. The design had to be able to accommodate medium-sized groups of schoolchildren and groups of bird watchers.

The timber-built design is intended to mellow into the landscape over time and includes wires for climbing plants and a green roof, planted with sedum plants. Grainge Architects ran an internal mini design-competition within the practice, where everybody worked alone to come up with ideas for it's concept and design over a time period. The Dart brothers then reviewed and picked their favourite elements of each, culminating in the final hybrid design. The view from the hide overlooks the Clyst floodplain, looking back to Topsham and the new cycle bridge. Grainge Architects were also instrumental in the bridge's inception, working with Darts Farm and the Bridge Inn. This established the essential layout and design concept, avoiding traffic lights and paving the way for the now constructed bridge.

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