BHSLA (Bradley Hole-Schoenaich Landscape Architects) is celebrating as Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge wins British architecture’s top award.

A new garden mixes perennial planting with blocks of yews
A new garden mixes perennial planting with blocks of yews

Brita von Schoenaich explained the thinking behind the design of the landscape for a building that sits within the city’s Botanic Gardens and is used by plant scientists. ‘We have worked with the architect Stanton Williams from a very early stage,’ she said. ‘The whole team, and particularly the client, was absolutely dedicated to achieving something outstanding, and the budget reflected that. It was really a cooperation right from the start.’

She continued, ‘The concept was based on a grove of trees out of which the building was carved. Everything is aligned along grid lines. We wanted the vegetation to express the sense of history and botanical influence.’

The gardens on the southern side provide a link between the new building and the much smaller listed Cory Lodge. On the north side, where there is a formal almost classical entrance, with a regular pattern of columns, BHSLA has deliberately contrasted this with gingko trees which will develop asymmetric crowns. ‘We chose them because of their evolutionary importance and their historic and botanic influence,’ said von Schoenaich.

In the courtyard the designer has created an olive grove, partly to highlight climate change through the fact that they can now thrive in this country, and partly because they are very drought tolerant.

On the terrace, adjacent to the botanical gardens, the designer has planted pleached lime trees, intended to provide shade when they mature to users of the public cafe and to celebrate the horticultural tradition of pleaching.

BHSLA has also designed a new area of the Botanic Garden to mediate between Cory Lodge and the new building, using perennial planting with blocks of yews.



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