Construction has commenced on the new National Herbarium of NSW as part of the Western Sydney City Deal to safeguard the collection of over 1.4 million botanical specimens.
The new Herbarium, located at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan in Western Sydney, will provide a botanic science facility designed to house some of the most significant and important collections of botanical specimens in Australia.
The building, designed by Architectus in collaboration with architect Richard Leplastrier and landscape architect Craig Burton, is inspired by the seed pod of NSW’s floral emblem the Waratah.
It includes ecologically sensitive and energy saving features, with the architecture of the building designed to support precise environmental conditions to protect the botanical specimens from degradation and insect infestation.
Six protective vaults made of thermal mass materials will shield the vast collection of botanical specimens from any extreme temperature events, such as bushfires.
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Like Waratah pods, the vaults contain several layers of protection. This includes a sterile internal box and thick wall constructed from rammed earth – a highly fire-resistant material that creates a symbolic connection between the Herbarium and the earth from which all specimens housed once grew.
A hovering winged ‘fly-roof’’ will protect and cool the vaults, while providing shade on external terraces for visitors. The long span structure of this roof will support a large format photovoltaic array that will generate solar energy for the facility. It will also harvest rainwater for irrigation of living plant specimens.
“It’s a privilege to work with the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust on this environmentally significant project,” Architectus Principal Luke Johnson said.
“Plants are central to our planet’s habitability and sustainability, and the research and visitor interaction with the new Herbarium’s extensive plant collection will facilitate positive environmental and societal outcomes for generations to come.”
Botanic Gardens Greater Sydney Chief Executive Denise Ora said the new Herbarium along with all scientific facilities, programs and living collections at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah, are being united under the new Australian Institute of Botanical Science.
“In this challenging era of climate change, the new Institute and Herbarium will put NSW and Australia at the forefront of plant conservation and management for generations to come,” Ora said.
“And this is just the beginning of super-charging NSW as a botanical science powerhouse and protecting plant life.
“We’re now actively seeking to partner with philanthropists, industry and governments to invest in our science programs, including delivering the largest science education program to school-aged children in the country that will inspire future generations of scientists to tackle some of our biggest environmental challenges,” Ora said.
Construction of the new National Herbarium of NSW is expected to be completed by late 2021.