. Marshland Discovery Zone
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. 133 _ Marshland Discovery Zone

The classroom and public outlook building are founded on wooden piles and sit above the newly created wetland.
Classroom, public outlook room and viewing deck. Image credit Sue Barr.

A public facility for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' nature reserve at Purfleet. It includes a new public outlook shelter, an outdoor field classroom, and indoor base used by school parties. Foundations are formed from driven timber piling which was first used for the construction of the reserves boardwalks. This provides a low impact, sustainable solution avoiding the need for piling sixteen metres down to the underlying chalk.

A viewing deck is surrounded by a high open timber screen. This deck leads directly into the public outlook room formed from two re‑used 40 foot shipping containers, sandblasted back to a weathering steel finish, and lined internally with timber boarding. The containers are roofed with a floating timber deck structure which uses a standard membrane roof and oyster shells as ballast.

project type_ public building
client_ RSPB
date_ 2007-2009
value_ £430,000
status_ complete

The observation deck is surrounded by a timber slatted screen with views through to the open marshland beyond.
Observation deck with timber screen. Image credit Sue Barr.
Wooden boardwalks built over the water allow visitors to experience the wetland habitats of the marshes 'up-close'.
Observation deck looking towards public outlook room. Image credit Sue Barr.
The buildings are constructed from re-used shipping containers, sand-blasted and naturally weathered, with big windows.
Classroom and teaching 'field'. Image credit Sue Barr.
Inside the walls are lined with larch boards. The large windows look out over the water towards the open marshland.
Interior of public outlook room with view to new wetland. Image credit Sue Barr.
A mixture of open water and reedbeds surround the new buildings. An earth bank separates the buildings from the main path.
The buildings are set in a newly constructed landscape of open water and reedbeds. Image credit Sue Barr.
The classroom is set in a vast open marshland. The Eurostar line appears on the horizon, raised on a bridge above the marsh.
New structures with marshes beyond. Image credit Sue Barr.
Site plan showing buildings surrounded by water, reedbeds and earth banks.
Site plan showing buildings surrounded by water, reedbeds and earth banks.
Cross section showing the composting toilet and treatment beds set above the water on wooden pile foundations.
Cross section, composting toilet and treatment beds. The composting toilet uses an off‑the‑shelf system adapted for use in the sensitive environment of the marshes.