Vattenriket is a cultural landscape and, being so close to an urban area, it underlines the connection between people and nature.
Naturum is situated in a recently-designated biosphere wetlands reserve. The lakeland area is dedicated to wildfowl and, for this reason, the building has been designed to act as a screen between visitor reception and the lakeside.
Boardwalks lead visitors out into the wetlands. Where the boardwalks meet, they become transformed. The western walk develops into a building whose fluid contours reach for the sky. We see it as echoing the vegetation growing in the landscape – the grasses, bushes and reeds.
The eastern walk is lower and horizontal with the ground, creating a protected, recessed area like a bird's nest or hideaway.
During the architecture competition, the concept of the hollow in the ground surrounded by vegetation gave rise to the term "hideaway in the reeds" which remained the working title of the project.
The idea behind Naturum Vattenriket is for visitors to roam from city to wetland area, but also to explore the landscape from a variety of vertical perspectives. The water level of the River Helge varies dramatically and the bottom floor of the visitor centre is four metres above ground to ensure there is no risk of flooding. From this height, visitors can enjoy an excellent view of the waterfowl in and around the lake, while the recessed reception area brings them closer to the native plants, water and small creatures.
The third perspective can be enjoyed from the upper floor of the building where the restaurant and roof garden are situated. Here you can gaze out across the osier beds and experience the low-lying landscape from above.
The view of the lake reaches right into the heart of the building - you feel as though you could stretch out and touch it. The fan-shaped exhibition room opens a vista of the lake as soon as you walk into the building. Composed of different elements, including pillars, glazed panels and solar shading, the south facade filters the soft light and gives the feeling of being sheltered by the surrounding plant life.
While the design of the building and boardwalks has its origin in a concept, the materials used are tangible, rational and natural. The predominant material throughout is wood. The pine facades of the building have been heat-treated while the boardwalk surfaces have been Linax-impregnated. The interior is shaped by the Kerto frame construction of the building with smooth, coloured cement-bonded particle board and joinery in pale pine.
The exhibition is constructed of laths that echo the idiom of the building but on a smaller scale. The formations create a complete landscape to explore.