The design of Perkins+Will’s VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre was inspired by the organic forms and natural systems of a native orchid. The 19,000-square-foot building is organized into undulating green roof ‘petals’ that float above its rammed earth and concrete walls. The front entrance overhang darts to the sky, and a central atrium and skylight pours natural light into the center while also serving as a solar chimney that exhausts hot air. A warm wood finish bring a softness to the modern lines of the interior.
Designed to exceed LEED Platinum status, the Visitor Centre is pursuing the Living Building Challenge — the most stringent measurement of sustainability in the built environment. In addition to an expansive green roof that reduces heating and cooling requirements, the facility uses on-site, renewable sources to achieve net-zero energy on an annual basis. A photovoltaic system on the roof will generate electricity for the center, and hot water will be provided by a biomass boiler fed by dry wood waste reclaimed from the surrounding area. Measures have been implemented to sequester enough carbon to achieve carbon neutrality, and filtered rainwater is used for the building’s greywater requirements. Most impressively 100% of the blackwater is treated in an on-site bio-reactor.