- Location Bristol, United Kingdom
- Value £14 million
- Size 7,500 m²
- Client At Bristol Ltd
- Year 2000
As the museum counterpart to the BBC's Natural History Unit, the building brings together an IMAX cinema, an electronic zoo and a tropical house. Its triangular site is part of the Bristol Harbourside leisure quarter, developed with the help of the Millennium Commission, on former docklands close to the city centre.
At the apex of the triangle sits the massive brick drum of the Imax cinema. From this point the building widens out to meet the listed two-storey 19th century leadworks, which have been converted into cafe and shop, with offices over. Between the drum and the leadworks the accommodation is organised in parallel layers, each with its own specific architectural character.
First a narrow glazed atrium separates the cinema from the rest of the building, preserving its geometrical purity. Then a five-storey circulation zone, attached to a four-storey brick 'black box' containing the interactive multimedia exhibits of the electronic zoo on two floors, with education rooms above. The next layer is the transparent tent roof of the tropical house, suspended from a pair of raking steel masts. Finally another smaller fabric roofed structure fills the space between the tropical house and the leadworks, forming the foyer with entrances at either end.