Heatherwick Studio converts an old paper mill into a beautiful, botanical distillery.
By Cory Sekine-Pettite
All photos courtesy of Heatherwick Studio / Iwan Baan
|The new glasshouses are used to grow the botanicals for Bombay Sapphire’s gin.|
Pictured here is the new Bombay Sapphire Distillery in Laverstoke, Hampshire, UK. Heatherwick Studio retrofitted an old paper mill into gin-maker Bombay Sapphire’s first in-house production facility.
Completed in September of this year, this new botanical distillery – which features two glasshouses to grow specimens of the 10 exotic plant species used in the Bombay Sapphire distillation process – has achieved a BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rating for sustainability; the first facility in the drinks manufacturing industry to be awarded this rating. Since the 5-acre site is located within a designated conservation area, Bombay Sapphire and the design team required a green strategy to put Laverstoke facility back to good use.
|The Test River, which flows through the property, plays a crucial role in the design and function of the distillery.|
Bombay Sapphire commissioned the project in 2010, and hired a team led by Heatherwick Studio to reimagine a derelict, water-powered paper mill as a world-class distillery that also would be open for members of the public to visit. The site contains more than 40 old buildings, many of historical significance and showcasing fine examples of Victorian and Edwardian architectural styles, which have been renovated and restored. Central to the development of Heatherwick’s master plan is the Test River, which was previously contained within a narrow, high-sided concrete channel and largely covered over as the site was developed over many years.
According to the BRE Trust, the largest UK charity dedicated specifically to research and education in the built environment and a key organization in developing BREEAM, sustainability was vitally important to Bombay Sapphire at Laverstoke Mill. The design of a low-carbon, BREEAM assessed, flagship distillery underpinned the design, which was supported by the client and design team from the outset.
“There was a strong desire to reduce any impact on the existing environment, and ‘cradle to grave’ considerations formed a major part of the design philosophy,” the Trust says on its BREEAM website. “This included the recycling and reuse of existing building materials from demolished buildings across the site, and an ingenious idea to reuse spent botanicals from the distillation process as fuel for the biomass boiler – supplying heat and hot water to the whole site.
“The use of cutting-edge technologies was encouraged by the client,” BRE’s report on the distillery continues. “This has seen a multi-functional renewable energy strategy implemented – including a 6kW hydro-electric turbine located in the River Test.”
The project scored 100 percent of available credits in the Energy and Management categories and more than 90 percent of credits in the Water, Materials and Waste categories. There was an additional 5 percent worth of innovation credits scored for exemplar performance levels achieved.
“Sustainability is vitally important to Bombay Sapphire. It runs through all that we do, and has underpinned all of our plans for the distillery,” said Nik Fordham, master distiller. “As such, we were delighted to achieve an outstanding BREEAM design stage accreditation for the distillery process buildings. BREEAM has kept sustainability high up the agenda and has provided a benchmarking mechanism that feeds into our corporate sustainability policy and key performance indicators. Fundamentally, we also believe building such a sustainable distillery makes financial sense, increasing efficiency and long-term operational energy and water use savings.”
|Commissioning date: 2010
Completion: September 2014
Client: Bombay Spirits Company Ltd.Project Team
Thomas Heatherwick, Eliot Postma, Katerina Dionysopoulou, Alma Wang, Ville Saarikoski
Project Manager – Meller Ltd.
Executive Architect – GWP
Landscape Architect – GWP
Glass House Structural Engineers – ARUP
M&E Engineer – Couch Perry Wilkes
Civil and Structural Engineers – Graham Schofield Associates
Planning Consultant – CBRE
Heritage Consultant – Giles Quarme Associates
Environmental Consultant – SKM Enviros
Horticultural Advisor – Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew
Process Consultant – Alectia
BREEAM Assessor – GWP Project Services Ltd.
Glasshouse contractors – Bellapart
Glass Supplier – CRICURSA
International BREEAM Award for Industrial Design for the Bombay Sapphire Distillery process buildings
The river became the central organizing device to make sense of the complex site and this accumulation of facilities, Heatherwick Studio reports. 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 in this area, the river has taken on more than twice its original width and its banks reshaped with planted foreshores. In addition to providing power for industry in South East England, the Test River in its entirety is 40 miles long and known for great trout fishing. Further, it played a crucial role in Richard Adams’ novel “Watership Down.”
Heatherwick Studio’s master plan proposed the creation of two, new glasshouses to grow specimens of the botanical ingredients 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. According to Heatherwick, 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.
Thomas is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects; a Senior Research Fellow at the Victoria & Albert Museum; and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Royal College of Art, University of Dundee, University of Brighton, Sheffield Hallam University and University of Manchester. In 2013, he was elected a Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
In 2004, Thomas was the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry. He was awarded the Prince Philip Designers Prize in 2006 and the London Design Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to design in 2010. In 2013, he was awarded the Critics’ Circle Visual Arts and Architecture Award, and he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the design industry.
Heatherwick Studio was formed in 1994. Today, a team of more than 140 architects, designers and makers work from a combined studio and workshop in Kings Cross, London, UK. Notable projects include the Olympic Cauldron for the 2012 Olympic Games, the New Bus for London, and the award-winning UK Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo 2010.