Bombay Sapphire opens sustainable visitor centre

Bombay Sapphire's Laverstoke Mill

This image could be described as Kew Gardens with a twist of lime – the two botanical glasshouses are the most visible and talked about aspect of the new Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire. The former paper mill opens as a visitor attraction today, with the copper gin stills of the working distillery production plant being part of the tourist trail.

The project, designed by Thomas Heatherwick working with GWP Architecture, has included the restoration of listed buildings on a site that sits within an area of outstanding natural beauty beside the River Test. The challenges of the existing site have been formidable: in all 23 buildings on the site have been restored, while the river has been widened and its banks reshaped.

The glasshouses spring from the historic buildings – one being humid and the other a dry temperature zone. They feature Bombay Sapphire’s 10 botanicals used in its distillation process, alongside more than 100 additional plant and herb species. The glasshouses are made from 893 individually-shaped two-dimensionally curved glass pieces held within more than 1.25km of bronze-finished stainless steel frames.

Sustainability is central to the design of the overall project with a range of renewable energy technologies being deployed, including biomass, photovoltaics and hydropower. Building materials, including bricks and roof tiles, have been recycled and reused from buildings demolished on the site. Rainwater harvesting and water saving devices have been specified.

The project was the first refurbishment to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding and is the first distillery to be BREEAM Outstanding certified.

The full project team is: client – Bacardi Martini/Bombay Spirits Company, project architect – GWP Architecture, lead designer – Heatherwick Studio, contract manager – Meller, mechanical and electrical consultant – Couch Perry Wilkes, civil engineer – Graham Schofield Associates, process engineer – Alectia.

Image is by Iwan Baan, courtesy Heatherwick Studio

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