Heatherwick Studio was commissioned by Bombay Sapphire, a gin-marker, to create the company’s first in-house production facility open to the public. The building was formerly a water-powered paper mill, and the site contained more than forty neglected buildings of historical significance, which will all be restored as part of the master plan.

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio - Photography: NAARO

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio – Photography: NAARO

The central of the master plan development is the River Test that was previously covered, but now is the central organizing device that helps one make sense of this site and facilities. The river has been transformed into a widened, opened, planted in a route that draws visitors into the newly defined courtyard at its center. The design team thought it is necessary to provide the public with a close up, real experience of the brewing process by allowing them to get close to the distillation process and observe the sculptural copper gin stills in action.

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio - Photography: Iwan Baan

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio – Photography: Iwan Baan

The master plan also proposed to create two new glasshouses to plant 10 exotic plant specimens to use for the distillation process. These glasshouses, on a humid tropical environment, and the other a dry temperate Mediterranean climate, are located in the northern still house with the waters of the widened river. This connection allows waste heat from the distillation process to be reused to maintain the temperature for the plants. More details from the architect come after the jump.

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio - Photography: Iwan Baan

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio – Photography: Iwan Baan

The gin-maker Bombay Sapphire commissioned the creation of the company’s first in-house production facility, which will also be open for members of the public to visit. Formerly a water-powered paper mill, the site contained more than forty derelict buildings, many of historical significance, which have been regenerated and restored as part of Heatherwick Studio’s master plan. Central to the development of the master plan is the River Test, which was previously almost invisible, contained within a narrow high-sided concrete channel and largely covered over as the site had intensively developed over many years.

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio - Photography: Iwan Baan

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio – Photography: Iwan Baan

The river became the central organizing device to make sense of the complex site and this accumulation of facilities. The river has been widened and its banks opened out and planted in order to transform it into a route that draws visitors through the site to a newly defined courtyard at its center, surrounded by historic buildings. To make the water visible and valuable once more the river has taken on more than twice its original width and its banks reshaped with planted foreshores.

The original project brief included a provision of a separate visitor center. However, the design team believed this not to be necessary, preferring to allow the public a more authentic experience by getting closer to the distillation process and seeing the sculptural copper gin stills in use.

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio - Photography: Iwan Baan

Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio – Photography: Iwan Baan

Heatherwick Studio’s master plan proposed the creation of two new glasshouses to grow specimens of the
10 exotic plant species used in the Bombay Sapphire distillation process. These glasshouses, one of them containing a humid tropical environment and the other a dry temperate Mediterranean climate, emerge from the northern still house to sit within the waters of the widened river. The connection to the still house allows waste heat from the distillation process to be recycled to maintain the warm climates for the plant species to flourish. The fluid geometry of these new glass buildings was influenced by recent advances in glass technology and by Britain’s rich heritage of botanical glasshouse structures.

This new botanical distillery has achieved a BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rating for sustainability; the first facility in the drinks manufacturing industry to be awarded this rating.

Project info:
Project Year: 2014
Architects: Heatherwick Studio
Location: Laverstoke, Whitchurch, Hampshire RG28, United Kingdom
Project Team: Thomas Heatherwick, Katerina Dionysopoulou, Eliot Postma, Alma Wang, Ville Saarikoski
Photographs: Iwan Baan, NAARO
Client: Bombay Spirits Company Ltd.

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