Inspired by its luscious natural surroundings, the magnificent John Hope Gateway at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden was designed with social sustainability in mind. Created by award-winning Edward Cullinan Architects, the building hosts an exhibition space, a media studio, a shop, a restaurant, indoor and outdoor educational areas, and a new bio-diversity garden and information center. The groundbreaking green building makes great use of renewable energy, recycles rainwater, takes advantage of passive heating and cooling strategies, and produces little waste.
Officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen in April 2010, the John Hope Gateway just won the 2011 RICS Annual Sustainability Award thanks to its use of low-energy, waste-reducing sustainable systems. The building’s high-tech design incorporates passive building strategies as well as energy-generating renewable systems such as a biomass boiler, solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, and a wind turbine. The building’s name honors the Scottish surgeon and leading botanist who was responsible for unifying parts of the gardens.
The building’s roof mimics the structure of a plant’s leaf – rainwater flows from roof canals into a corrugated steel tank that collects it to be reused for flushing the toilets. Nature flourishes both outside and in thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, which suffuse the interior with daylight. The center also makes great use of natural ventilation, which is controlled through a system of vertical fins.
The center’s restaurant was built using local Scottish timber, glass and stone, and it offers astonishing views of the gardens. The building’s educational facilities include many interactive displays that allow visitors to learn about the garden’s research and conservation work in Scotland.
Ted Cullinan created Edward Cullinan Architects in 1965. Since then the London-based studio has been committed to designing ’long-life, loose fit, low-energy buildings’ with a strong commitment to social sustainability.
Photos © Paul Raftery