The Horniman Museum and Gardens in London just reopened its 16.5 acre gardens to the public after a major £2.3M ($3.5M) redevelopment. Museum Patron Joe Swift officially opened the new Gardens Pavilion, Display Gardens, Sound Garden, Animal Walk and the spectacular London skyline terrace.
The most prominent part of the redevelopment is the new Gardens Pavilion designed by London-based practice Walters & Cohen. The firm's partners, Michál Cohen and Cindy Walters, recently topped a shortlist of strong competitors to win the coveted AJ Woman Architect of the Year Award.
Project Description from the Architects:
The Horniman Gardens project, which was masterminded by landscape architects Land Use Consultants, has taken 16 months to complete. It marks an important point in the history of the Gardens, which were first opened to the public by Horniman Museum founder Frederick Horniman in 1895. Following decades of piecemeal alterations, £907,000 in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG), through the Parks for People scheme, has allowed all major areas of the Gardens to be improved. The completed project has enabled the layout of the Gardens to be viewed as a whole, revitalised much-loved aspects and strengthened the ties between the Museum’s collection and its surroundings.
The most significant new development is the introduction of a Gardens Pavilion designed by Walters & Cohen, which will host school groups, conferences, lectures and public performances. The contemporary timber building features floor to ceiling windows, a living roof and a spectacular outdoor terrace with views of the London skyline. The pavilion, situated in the heart of the Gardens, will build on the Horniman’s educational reputation, giving students close-up experience of animals and nature.
The Gardens Pavilion is heated by a ground source pump allowing the Horniman to reduce both its carbon footprint and utility costs. The Horniman will develop many more diverse wildlife activities and scientific sessions including pond dipping, fungi walks, mini-beast hunts and landscape painting using the Pavilion and the adjoining nature trail.
Situated at the end of the bandstand terrace, at the terminus of a formal avenue of trees, this new park pavilion defines an important civic space.
The building hovers above the ground and has breathtaking views over the city of London. Two simple forms interlock: the taller form encloses a multipurpose education space that opens onto a terrace, set treehouse-like in the canopy of the trees below. A zinc-clad box, it floats above the site, pitched at a level to enjoy views of the city skyline. The lower form is Larch-clad, and contains a kitchen, toilets and store rooms.
Drawing inspiration from the adjacent Victorian bandstand, the new park pavilion harks back to a heroic period in British landscape architecture and celebrates the ‘life blood’ supplied by London's city parks.
Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund London Committee said: “The new Gardens Pavilion for learning and performance is outstanding and there is now marvellous synergy between Gardens and Museum, the latter regenerated to world class standards by an earlier HLF grant. Horniman Gardens has the most wonderfully situated bandstand, perched on a hill with panoramic views of central London from the south.”
Across the terrace sits the 100-year-old bandstand, designed by Charles Harrison Townsend, the architect of the landmark 1901 clock tower. The bandstand has been given a new lease of life with oak floorboards and the restoration of the original weather vane. The impressive views from the bandstand, which for decades have been masked behind screens, have now been restored, with new glass panels evoking its heyday a century ago and allowing the London skyline to once again become a dramatic, living backdrop to both professional and community music performances.