Winner 2010

Award for
Arts or Entertainment Structures

Project Description

The mission of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh is to ‘explore and explain the world of plants’. The John Hope Gateway Building combines the practical need for improved visitor facilities with an opportunity to engage visitors in the work of the RBGE, as well as exploring the relevance of plant life to the critical issues of our time. The innovative modular ‘tree’ structure makes use of minimally-sized, slender steel lattice columns to support glued laminated timber roof members and cross-laminated timber roof panels. This provides a stiff yet light roof structure, which was quick to erect as well as being both ecologically appropriate and visually appealing. Great care has been taken over the detailing of the structural connections, to ensure that the finished product reflects visibly what is happening technically. This makes the structure both interesting to look at as well as being logical and highly satisfying from an engineering viewpoint. Particular attention has been paid to diminishing the environmental impact of the building overall in a wide variety of ways, including the careful consideration of its positional fit on the site and by sourcing materials locally where possible. The overall result is an exemplar contemporary low carbon structure, quick to erect and with minimal waste, which demonstrates the high level of design integration that we can expect to become the accepted norm in the future. This has been achieved largely through the appropriate choice of materials and technologies to suit the purpose and philosophy of the building.

Judge’s comments

"A delightful design in which the structural engineering helps entice the visitor to walk in and encounter a strikingly different environment. Whichever way you consider the project - technically, philosophically or aesthetically - the structural engineer has got it right."

Project overview

Structural Designer

  • Buro Happold Ltd

Client Name

  • Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

Year Submitted

  • 2010