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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, MoA launch international design competition to create treehouses in 2023

United Kingdom Architecture News - Jan 08, 2022 - 20:39   1307 views

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, MoA launch international design competition to create treehouses in 2023

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Museum of Architecture (MoA) have launched an international design competition to find three exceptional designs to create three Treehouses across RBG Kew's UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a larger ‘Treehouses at Kew’ Exhibition taking place in 2023.

"Treehouses at Kew" will be Kew’s main exhibition running from April to October 2023 and provide one of the most unmissable visitor experiences in the 2023 London cultural calendar. It will unveil seven Treehouses, a gallery exhibition, and an accompanying visitor programme. An anticipated 900,000 visitors will attend the exhibition during its run, and each treehouse must inspire visitors in fun and interactive ways to learn more about protecting the climate, biodiversity and sustainable design.

The Treehouses

  • Three treehouses will be chosen through the Treehouses at Kew Design Competition Three Treehouses will be direct commissions by architects from Kew!s designated
  • International Scientific Priority countries
  • One treehouse will be co-designed in collaboration with young people

The exhibition will communicate the value of good design and the role architects can play in addressing some of the most pressing problems faced today - sustainable use of materials, responding to the climate crisis and creating places that successfully balance the needs of people and the planet. It is a unique opportunity to use creative and architectural thinking to design within and around Kew’s living collection and produce inventive, accessible, and innovative designs.

Kew's 14,000 trees are the backbone of its UNESCO world heritage site in West London, but, more pertinently, they represent the ‘lungs’ of our entire planet. Trees contribute immeasurably to our mental wellbeing and, more immediately, provide us with commodities that underpin life; clean air, food, timber, fuel and medicines. Change to our climate has become one of today’s important environmental and social issues resonating with people all over the world.

The Competition

The international design competition invites architects and multi-disciplinary teams to come up with an exceptional design for a treehouse for one of three selected trees within Kew’s 320-acre site - a Maple, a Pine and a Silver Lime.

Each treehouse design should respond to that tree’s specific theme. The themes are:

1: Celebrating play - a Norway Maple
2: Highlighting nature!s architecture and biomimicry - a Pine
3: Showcasing pioneering sustainable materials and innovative design - a Silver Lime

Richard Deverell, Director of RBG, Kew, said: "We are delighted to launch the competition to find talented architects to work with us on this exciting summer programme for 2023. This is a unique venture for us in that it combines a celebration of our most prized asset, our beautiful collection of trees at Kew Gardens, with an opportunity to highlight our global science work through an architectural exhibition. We hope it will inspire our visitors to look at trees differently and ultimately to protect our planet and its precious biodiversity by championing high-quality, nature- based solutions to the challenges we face. I cannot wait to see the designs and watch it all come to life."

Melissa Woolford, founder of the Museum of Architecture said: "Architects draw from nature to inform their designs aesthetically, to find design solutions, and come up with sustainable outcomes. The Treehouses at Kew Design Competition is an important opportunity to show how forward-thinking designs and material use can have a positive impact on our planet. I am really excited to see how design teams respond to this opportunity to create innovative design approaches that inspire thousands of people to think differently about the natural and built environments."

Designed and built using sustainable renewable materials, each treehouse should celebrate and explore key aspects of trees and their importance to our world by bringing visitors closer than ever before to Kew’s living collection.

The jury, which includes Kunle Barker, Manijeh Verghese, Oliver Wainwright, Morag Myerscough, and Simon Allford, is looking for designs that are architecturally interesting, demonstrate boldness, are pioneering in the use of materials and include a legacy life so the treehouses can be reassembled elsewhere.

It is anticipated that the delivery of Treehouses at Kew will be supported by a number of partners including Finsa UK Limited, Xilonor and Arup.

Submissions

This will be a two-stage competition run by the Museum of Architecture in partnership with Kew. The competition is open to UK-based and international architecture practices, and submissions are welcomed from collaborations. Further information about the submission process can be found on the Museum of Architecture’s website. A video about the competition is available to view here.

All first stage submissions should be emailed to [email protected] by 12 noon (GMT) on Monday 7 February 2022.

The successful winning entrants will be required to work with Kew Gardens and Museum of Architecture to realise their treehouse onsite and to be included in various project components such as the gallery exhibition, visitor programming, publications, marketing and press and commercial activities associated with the project.

The successful winning entrants will be required to work with Kew Gardens and Museum of Architecture to realise their treehouse onsite and to be included in various project components such as the gallery exhibition, visitor programming, publications, marketing and press and commercial activities associated with the project.

Key Dates & Renumeration

This will be a two-stage competition run by The Museum of Architecture in partnership with RBG Kew. Stage 1 is an Expression of Interest including a standard Kew Questionnaire for review by the jury, and key members of Kew and MoA. Stage 2 will be a submission and presentation to the Jury and key members of RBG Kew and MoA.

Expressions of Interest will be judged, and a shortlist of nine practices (three per treehouse) will be chosen to proceed to stage 2.  

Nine practices will be awarded £2,500 plus vat for the second stage of the competition. If chosen as a competition winner, practices will receive £10,000 + vat and up to £4,500 + vat for travel and accommodation to complete the project. Total £12,500 + vat.

Stage 1 Competition Launch: Wed 5 January 2022

Self-directed site visits to Kew: Wed 5 January to Sun 6 February

Free site visit day (sign-up required by 14 January: info on museumofarchitecture.org): Mon 17 January

Stage 1 Expressions of Interest submissions deadline: Mon 7 February 2022 at 12 noon GMT

Shortlisted architects will be notified: w/c 14 February 2022

Feedback provided to all non- shortlisted entrants: March 2022

Group Site Visit: Week of the 21st of February

Stage 2 Submissions deadline: Mon 14 March 2022 by 12.00 noon

Presentations to the jury: Tues 22 March 2022 (online or in-person)

Winners Announced: Week of 28 March 2022

Project Development: March – June 2022

Planning Submitted for Review: July 2022 – September 2022

Fabrication: October 2022 – February 2023

Installation: January-March 2023

Open to Public: April 2023

Download the full competition brief here

Top image courtesy of MoA.

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