The architect who designed RHS Bridgewater Visitor Centre, has expressed his delight after the building won its seventh award.

RHS Garden Bridgewater Visitor Centre, located in Worsley, has been awarded Greater Manchester Building of the Year 2021 by Greater Manchester Chamber.

The building, which is a gateway to the gardens that have been dubbed as Europe’s ‘biggest horticultural project’ won the prestigious award earlier this month, which adds to the six previous awards that the building has won.

Alongside being a major project, the visitor centre has a focus on the environment, with the roof being used to collect water for the bathrooms and the buildings heating is 80% generated by renewable energy sources.

Stephen Hodder MBE, the architect behind the project, and a partner in his own practice, Hodder and partners outlined how much the award meant to him due to it being regional and how it impacted the people of Salford.

He said: “This award was a little bit more special because of what the building and the garden gives to Greater Manchester, but in particular for what it gives to the people of Salford.

“When the Royal Horticultural Society were selecting the site, they were very much keen that it was a building in Salford, because a big part of their remit is community engagement, it’s not just about plant life it’s about how you take things into the community and improve peoples lives, improve wellbeing and fitness.”


He also stated the reasons behind the design of the building: “The building tries to capture the outside when you’re inside, you see the garden from the very transparent finely glazed windows, and you’re always aware of the garden

“Also, we use materials that are very low carbon and we use ground-source heat pumps”

Image credit: Matthew Lanceley

As well as having a community focus on health, the gardens and visitor centre are free on Tuesdays for Salfordians, which further connotes the positive community presence of the site.

The garden itself is one of five RHS gardens in England and has led to 350,000 visitors in the past year – the second most out of all RHS sites in England.

The project has great benefits for young people, and Mr Hodder believes this community impact is partly why they won the award: “In the building there are classrooms and 7,000 school children have been through, being taught about the importance of plant life.”

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