The Aquaterra Environmental Center sits on what used to be the Drocourt coking plant, which began operation in 1925. The plant was one of the largest coke production plants in Europe before it was shut down in 2002. The site was rehabilitated into a large public park dedicated to ecology and the environment. The design for the 45-hectare site (which includes islands and lakes) was completed by Ilex Landscape Architects, while the design of the newly opened visitor center was handled by Tectoniques Architectes.
The building itself is a 953 square meter (10,250 square foot) education and visitor center that sits on one end of the park. The oval-shaped building is constructed from straw bales clad in wooden bricks. A butterfly green roof collects and directs rainwater into cisterns for storage, where it can be used for toilet flushing and watering greenhouses. The roof also holds a photovoltaic system and two wind turbines that generate clean energy. Inside, daylighting reaches all the interior rooms and shading prevents excessive heat gain. The project received Minergie® certification for its energy efficient design, use of sustainable materials and dedication to the local ecology.
Images ©Julien Lanno