Magor Marsh is a 90 acres wetland reserve, located on the Welsh side of the Severn Estuary and is the last relatively natural area of fenland on the Gwent Levels. Managed by the Gwent Wildlife Trust, the existing building on site operates as a teaching facility for local schools and interested parties. The buildings demand has outgrown its existing facilities.


The project involved unpicking and updating the existing facility to provide new office, classrooms, toilets and workshop space. The site constraints (included the access road, car park and reen) dictated the linear form of the proposal; whilst shared access requirements for young and old developed the secure entry sequences and external covered space.


The concept for the proposal is derived from the landscape and existing structure. Whilst the existing stone faced classroom is retained and enhanced, the dark two-storey proposed mass of the new element, sits like a low horizontal shadow on the landscape.  The roofline provides movement and interest like a ribbon across the site.


The charred black external timber cladding reflects the layers of history on the site and the area. The blackening and richness of soil, of natural matter within the environment.


Natural ventilation is provided in all areas by way of carefully placed windows, double height spaces and opening rooflights. Natural daylight is enhanced in the teaching and office spaces to maximise concentration and focus, by way of large rooflights and framed views out to the marsh. An air source heat pump provides all that is required in terms of heating and hot water demand, with roof mounted photovoltaic panels and hot water solar collectors in addition. A greywater recycling unit assists toilet flushing. The walls and floors are heavily insulated for thermal efficiency and detailed for good airtightness. The ground floor slab provides thermal mass as a heat sink to regulate temperatures. 

Location: Magor Marsh, South Wales

Status:     Feasibility

© HILLS + CO. 2020

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