Naturum Vattenriket

Naturum Vattenriket

This previous polluted and inaccessible area across the Helge River now hosts a new visitor centre that draws 80,000 visitors a year – double the number initially expected – to roam from the city into the wetlands, to bird-watch and explore the landscape from a variety of vertical perspectives.

Bringing the city to the wetlands

Naturum Vattenriket is a visitor centre at the centre of a UNESCO biosphere reserve; a model area for the interplay between nature and people in Sweden’s southern Skåne region. The site is so close to the city of Kristianstad, you can spot the building from the main square. The visitor centre includes gallery space, restaurants, education and conference rooms from where visitors can enjoy the wild beauty of the wetlands. During the competition, the concept of a hollow in the ground surrounded by vegetation gave rise to the working title Rede i vassen – Nest among the Reeds.

Client: Kristianstad Municipality
Location: Kristianstad, Sweden
Status: Completed 2011
approx. 1,000 sqm
Visuals: White View, Åke E:son Lindman & Patrik Olofsson

The wetlands are home to a variety of wildfowl; the building was designed as a screen between visitors and the lakeside habitat.

Two walkways lead visitors out into the wetlands. At the point where they meet, the western walk elevates and sprouts vertical slats that swell like a protective shield of reeds to form the visitor centre building. The building itself lies four metres above ground to ensure there is no risk of flooding from the varying ebb of the Helge River. From this height, visitors can enjoy an excellent view of the waterfowl and wildlife around the lake.

The protected, multifunctional ‘nest’ at the meeting point of building and bridge provides generous areas for gathering outdoors in a setting that does not disturb the bird life. This allows contact with the water and serves as an important link between building and bridge.
Competition jury panel, Kristianstad Municipality

The eastern walk is lower and gently swings out to form a recessed area next to the visitor centre – like a bird’s nest; a retreat among the reeds. This protected area allows visitors a closer look at the water, native plants, and wildlife.

Sheltered by nature

Entering Naturum Vattenriket makes for a dramatic change of scenery. Visitors are greeted by a generous gallery space that fans out to open a vista of the lake. Indoors become outdoors, as the glazed curve of the south façade presents a panoramic landscape; guests can see the lake from all points inside the centre. Pillars, glazed panels and brise soleil filter the soft light throughout the main space, giving visitors the feeling of being sheltered by the natural surroundings.

A restaurant and roof garden occupy the top floor of Naturum Vattenriket. This is a perfect vantage point from which to observe the osier beds and experience the low-lying landscape from above.

The exhibition design in the gallery space also reflects clumps of reed. A mix of natural and white glazed pinewood slats of varying widths and lengths shape the displays and furniture; an undulating miniature landscape. The slats echo throughout the interior; from the ceiling baffles to wall partitions, while the Kerto frame construction provides a structural and aesthetic rigour.

The predominant material throughout is wood. Cross-laminated timber is accented by naturally oxidised aluminium and colour-toned cement chipboard. Outside, heat-treated pine façades and the linseed-oiled boardwalk surfaces ensure weatherproofing. As time passes, the pine will weather to a silver-grey, reflecting the lake and skies.

Contact & Team

Fredrik Pettersson

Lead Architect

Per Berg

Ulrika Connheim

Per-Anders Andersson

Martin Sundberg

Jakob Ek

Anders Danielsson

Johan Larsson

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