The Calyx Centre, Perth visitor attraction, Scotland Garden Trust

The Calyx Perth : Architecture

Scottish Garden Centre showcase & visitor attraction

15 May 2006

The Calyx

Nicoll Russell Studios beat Snohetta, Benson + Forsyth, Ushida Findlay

Scotland’s Garden Trust

The Calyx Centre, Perth – Architecture Competition

The Calyx: Project Summary
The Calyx project is to develop a horticultural centre of excellence for Scotland. It will be a unique garden showcase and a world class visitor attraction for Scotland.

The Calyx promotes visitor inspiration, excitement, entertainment and education by creating an environment which celebrates the pleasures of gardening and the contribution horticulture has made and continues to enhance the quality of our lives and looks at our environment.

The Calyx will work towards improving the opportunities to establish new ways to manage, use, and develop resources both natural and cultural heritage in an environmentally sustainable way, promoting social inclusiveness at all levels.
Design of the garden and the main visitor building have been built on end-user needs.

Through community workshops and suggestions from the general public, the architects have modelled the designs on community aspirations. The Calyx is driven by the ethos and aims of Scotland’s Garden Trust, a registered charity. It has partnering links and is envisaged by it’s champions to offer a vehicle to help achieve the aims of a wide-ranging number of overarching national and regional strategies.

The site is eminently accessible, located at the very heart of Scotland, at a point where the main transport networks converge. Road access is particularly good with 90% of the Scottish population living within a 90-minute drive of the site. The site is also well located within walking distance of Perth, a focal point of economic activity and tourism.

The Calyx will be well served by public transport enjoying access to the new Park and Ride system which will use the The Calyx as one of its base points. Regular links will exist between the site / city centre and other public transport links in Scotland – notably the rail infrastructure network which again converges at Perth from the main intercity destinations nationally, make The Calyx completely accessible.

The Calyx site incorporates Bell’s Cherrybank Garden and National Heather Collection, extending to a total of 24.85 hectares / 61 acres to the west of Perth. The development of The Calyx safeguards the area for the community against alternatives which may include housing or commercial / industrial development.

The project’s neighbours include a mixture of upmarket residential housing and commercial office buildings of major blue chip companies, including Bank of Scotland and Norwich Union, and the new area office of the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department. The Calyx location is therefore already a confirmed hub of social and commercial activity both regionally and nationally.

The Calyx has distinct areas of activity / operation, which are all inextricably linked to form a sustainable business model that meets the aims of the Trust and the vision for the site. Each of these components has been formed from the basis of focus group discussions / research whose findings were brought to the early planning of the project.

The main components of The Calyx are:

‘Garden’ / Horticultural Experience’ core
Visitor Facilities, Service and Commercial Activities
Lifelong Learning Environment
Social, Community and Exhibition Facilities

The overall concept and business case is strengthened by the diversity of the project concept, with the ‘whole’ greater in appeal than the sum of the parts. The gardening sector is one of the biggest single leisure markets in the UK / worldwide with annual expenditure in the UK in excess of c. £5 billion sterling, and this figure is increasing.

The horticultural element of The Calyx is themed, the detailed design of which is ongoing. It will aim to provide a mixed experience, capable of satisfying a range of visitors. At one extreme this will satisfy those seeking knowledge and a learning experience, and to those at the other end who want a ‘good day out’ in a pleasant natural environment, walking or picnicking with friends and family.

The garden will include permanent and changing elements and an events and education programme to encourage repeat visits, and provide all year round interest. The Calyx will be creative in involving the Arts throughout the garden. Creative design will be used to increase public awareness of environmental issues and encourage education through the relationship of plants gardens and horticulture. The following are an example of the themes / attractions to be included within the garden:

Lifestyle gardens
Competition and display gardens
Trial and demonstration gardens
Plants for food, medicine and therapy
Horticultural trial areas, focusing on the performance of plants suitable for Scottish conditions.
Creative Water Features
Themed trails to appeal to a wide audience base (old, young, disadvantaged, disabled, learning, training) incorporating elements of play, interpretation, art, sensory
Wet weather facilities, shelter and interpretation

Reflecting the project ethos, the Calyx main visitor building will demonstrate best practice in staff and customer care, environmental performance, events, retail, catering.

The Calyx main visitor building will house :

reception / visitor arrival area
interpretation and visitor information
education, lecture, community rooms
garden ticketing point
food and beverage facilities (café / coffee shop / restaurant – informal dining with associated outside terrace space linked to the garden, group/event facilities)
External performance areas
plant / horticultural materials’ sales area (indoor and outdoor space)
gifts / book sales area
library resource
garden information resource and ICT
administration offices and third party partnering organisations offices
staff facilities, maintenance, storage and back of house

A priority of the Trust is that all these facilities will be housed in a building that demonstrates architectural merit, displaying innovative design, using materials with environmental credentials and environmental practices to promote environmental performance and sustainability, in-keeping with the ethos and policies of the Calyx.

The Calyx will promote new technology which will encourage sustainable living and biodiversity. Through numerous partnerships and working with experts in each field, the Calyx is aiming to minimise the impact of waste, energy, water and carbon emissions and articulate this to its visitors at a level where they return home inspired to implement the sustainable initiatives they have seen.

The Calyx will also act as a showpiece for the horticultural industry and will enhance its performance, thereby safeguarding and hopefully increasing employment in the sector. The Calyx will support domestic growers and nurseries and safeguard jobs.

As an employer, the Calyx will promote equal opportunities and safe working practices for both staff and visitors. It will support 200 positions and further associated jobs from partner organisations. It is envisaged that some 240 positions will be based at the Calyx. The economic impact to the area is estimated at £21m annually.

Training for the horticulture and tourism industries will be at the heart of the Calyx. With partner organisations the Calyx will seek best practice through IIP and offer courses for both the horticulture and tourism industries and the general public.

The Calyx project is for communities across Scotland and beyond, and will appeal to all groups. It is a diverse mix of facilities, services, experiences, learning and opportunities as well as an environmental exemplar. There is one interlinking factor; horticulture / gardening.

The Calyx will also provide a focus and permanent feature for the horticultural industry by providing a shop window for business in this sector. The facility is also planned to have a key role in the future of the social and economic balance of the Perth region and future strategic direction will see it play a growing role in education and lifelong learning.

The Calyx aims to provide an educational and lifelong learning resource in horticulture and the environment, open to all ages and abilities, both at the garden and remotely through electronic devices, and be a focus for horticultural and environmental issues in Scotland. The project will also promote healthy eating and living, key priorities for the Scottish Executive.

The project, as a multifaceted, destination product, with no single other benchmark, is unique in Scotland. This diversity sees the project operating in a wide range of different markets simultaneously.

World tourism is an increasingly competitive market with some 180 countries fighting for its market share. The Calyx project supports VisitScotland’s tourism targets and provides a destination ‘must see’, ‘must repeat’ attraction, wholly accessible in the heart of Scotland.

The different components of the Calyx underpins the business case and its sustainability in economic, social and environmental terms.

Support for the Calyx is immense. The general public have signed up and continue to provide their ideas. The Trust has some 70 patrons from all walks of life, including Alan Titchmarsh and Diarmuid Gavin from the world of horticulture.

The Trust has carefully considered past successes and failures and examined the aspects which will attract the visitors through end-user consultation, partnership consultation, and professional experience.

On completion of funding, construction of The Calyx will take three years. Funding for the project to date has come from local enterprise, local authority and various corporate and individual donations. It is envisaged capital funds will come from The Big Lottery Fund, Trusts, Companies, and Individuals.

The Calyx, Perth – Building PR received May 2006 via RIAS

Address: The Calyx, Perth, Scotland, PH2 OPF, UK

Contact: [email protected] +44 (0)1738 472800

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Website: Perth, Scotland