Last autumn, students from Merrist Wood College were invited to participate in a competition to come up with a design for a quadrangle of land situated adjacent to the Institute’s new high containment laboratories currently being built on site. The competition formed part of The Pirbright Institute’s local community engagement programme and the concept behind the Landscape Design Competition for 2013 was ‘Nature versus Technology’.
Students from Merrist Wood’s Garden Design course came to visit the site and were given a full brief before being asked to develop and submit their ideas. The competition closed in June and all the designs submitted were of an exceptional standard but the judges agreed that first place was to be awarded to James Kerry.
Pirbright’s Dr John Anderson who was on the judging panel said, “The standard of the entries was astounding and any one of them would have made a stunning addition to the new facility. James' design was judged the winner because it best met the overall design brief - visual impact from the laboratories on the first floor, low maintenance, organic flow, linking with the heathland habitat of the surrounding area, year round colour and the use of light sticks to give colour and interest even on the dark winter afternoons.”
James said, “Having only joined the Garden Design course at Merrist Wood in January 2013, to win The Pirbright Institute Landscape Design Competition means a tremendous amount. It has not only given me an insight into designing for actual clients but also the confidence to strive for success in both business and competitions in the future.”
James’ design will be taken and further developed with the aim to have the design realised in time for the opening ceremony of the new high containment laboratories in autumn 2014.
Here James describes the inspiration behind his winning design.
“From the given brief and Q&A session held at The Pirbright Institute the contrast of nature versus technology was one that stood out to me above all else. I wanted to be able to compliment the architect’s design of the new laboratories, but also adhere to the desires of the people who will experience the quadrangle on a daily basis.
“The client’s strong desire to capture the surroundings of the site was central to my design concept. To address this, I chose to bring the heathland into the space, but contrast it with light technology in the form of coloured acrylic tubes and floodlights. The design also uses defined spaces to split the area in strips. A central strip forms the main focus of the space and contains the tallest trees and seating areas, made from granite boulders to achieve the idea of solitude and separation from the surroundings.
“Heathers were chosen to emulate the heathland, but have been planted in flowing organic shapes across the area, variants were chosen to give bright contrasting colour from spring through to autumn. Trees, include, the silver birch for its stark white bark, the Scots pine for its top heavy structure and the umbrella pine for its shape. The foliage in the summer will give dappled sunlight in the seating areas and give the sense of density without totally blocking out views beyond.”
As part of the prize, James and the two runners up will head to London to spend a day with the architects of the new high containment laboratories, HDR. They will use one of the sites that HDR is currently working on and each student will be asked to present their ideas. During the day they will have access to one of the company’s in-house architects who will mentor them and in the evening they will be taken out for a meal where they will have an opportunity to discuss their ideas and plans for the future.