Australian architecture firm BVN Donovan Hill completed the Australian PlantBank, a science and research facility for the Australian Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust. The PlantBank, which primarily serves as a research center and repository for Australian indigenous seeds, also offers educational opportunities in the form of interpretation and exhibition facilities. Situated between the critically endangered Cumberland Plain forest and a plant nursery, the building's environmentally conscious design serves as a metaphor for the transitional nature of Australia's landscape from wild plant life to cultivation.
Built to preserve Australia’s indigenous botanical heritage, the PlantBank consists of research laboratories and teaching facilities that specialize in studying a collection of 25,000 native seeds. Visitor amenities take shape in the open exhibition rooms and ramped entranceway flanked with various learning landscapes including outdoor gardens with interpretative signage. BVN Donovan Hill chose building materials that would blur the boundaries between the built and natural landscape; the reflective stainless steel panels reflect images of the landscape onto the building face and the structure’s concrete base symbolizes abstracted earth.
To minimize energy consumption, the PlantBank arcs to the north and is protected by solar shading features such as glass louvres. The open plan also allows for east to west cross ventilation. A thermal labyrinth installed beneath the east wing captures and dissipates heat into the ground to reduce the HVAC load. The PlantBank also harvest rainwater and feeds collected water into a gas boost solar hot water system on the roof.
Images via BVN Donovan Hill