City Architecture Office  

The Hidden Garden Hub


Project Value: £250K
Client: NVA Organisation

This building sits within the framework of the Hidden Garden proposals. The layout, form and accommodation meet the requirements of the three main users (wardens, community, gardeners). The footprint of the old boilerhouse offers a strong physical memory of its previous use. The new structure is delicately inserted within the curtilage of the walls- a palimpsest building that subtly connects courtyard to garden.

There is a cascade of asymmetric water forms that (with the test beds) are reminiscent of Scottish walled or Islamic gardens, where the conservation and storage of water was used to irrigate plants. Gravity driven rainwater travels from an expressive roof gutter into a ‘bath’ pool, from where it pours into a rill for planter irrigation and then into a recessed channel.


Secret Garden

The external spaces created by careful placement of the building within the boilerhouse footprint, allow opportunities for seasonal outdoor events to happen. Variations from summer to winter, daylight to darkness are considered in the way that the building is illuminated and how it opens/ closes- like a flower bud.

The garden office has views over the courtyard entrance, hidden gardens and service access. The workshop occupants are protected within the courtyard giving a strong sense of place within the building. The building floor is slightly raised above the level of the formal garden route. Gentle ramps form bridges over into the boilerhouse courtyard ensuring it is fully wheelchair accessible from the garden. A secure gardener’s store accommodates all the equipment necessary to maintain the hidden garden.

Environment & Services
The principle of using the thermal mass of the insulated concrete floor is applied to under floor heating powered from fotovoltaic electricity. When heating is not required in summer, the concrete will absorb any heat build up during the day then dissipate in the cooler evenings.

Secret Garden