National Herbarium of NSW
NSW Royal Botanic Garden
Mount Annan, NSW
5000 m2 (internal); 4600 m2 (external)
The National Herbarium of NSW currently located at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is one of the most significant botanical resources in the Southern Hemisphere. It houses a growing collection of over 1.43 million plant specimens which are essential for informing and making decisions about the conservation and management of our natural environment.
Architectus worked in a collaborative design relationship with two esteemed industry professionals, architect, Richard Leplastrier and landscape architect, Craig Burton. Together we explored and researched the nature of the Mount Annan site, the complexity and extensive indigenous history of the region and the functional requirements of herbaria.
Through creative collaboration, a joint concept design was developed to secure the preservation of the specimens that underpin vital scientific research and give physical expression to the new Herbarium and its precious contents at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.
A key design priority for the new Herbarium is to provide precise environmental conditions with strict temperature and humidity controls to protect the precious botanical specimens from degradation and insect infestation. In addition to this, the new state-of-the-art facility is to be engaging to the public and provide a functional and inspiring place to work. Establishing a harmonious balance between these priorities presented a unique challenge.
The collaborative design team demonstrated true innovation through the proposal of a large “fly-roof” that will assist with protecting the specimen vaults from excessive heat while simultaneously providing a deeply shaded external setting for public access and use. The long span structure of this roof will support a large format photovoltaic array that will generate electrical energy for the facility, and the roof’s surface will be used to harvest rainwater for irrigation.
The elegant design of this roof also engages positively with the adjacent Australian Plant Bank Facility. The new Herbarium along with all of the Garden’s scientific facilities, programs and living collections at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Australian Botanic Garden and Blue Mountains Botanic Garden are also being united under the new Australian Institute of Botanical Science.