We recently completed a car park extension scheme for the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich. The grade II* listed art gallery and museum was designed by Norman Foster and is host to regular national and international exhibitions. It is a prominent feature of the parkland landscape at the University of East Anglia.
The Centre struggled to provide enough visitor parking, especially during temporary exhibitions when numbers can increase by over 200 per day. We were asked to study the problem and provide a solution which was sensitive to the setting of the building. It was also a requirement that our proposals get approval from Foster and Partners, who have ongoing input into all aspects relating to the Sainsbury Centre.
Continuation and enhancement of existing local elements was the basis of the design. High quality materials and planting were carefully considered and selected to ensure the new car park would provide continuity in the landscape and a sense of maturity. Prominent trees were retained as assets to allow the car park to settle comfortably into the landscape. Innovative no-dig construction methods were used to minimise damage to retained trees.
Close collaboration between the design team, contractor, and client ensured that the construction work caused minimal disruption to the functioning of the Sainsbury Centre. The working times and programming of construction were arranged to fit round both the general opening times and several high-profile special events. Six months after the work finished the trees are healthy and everyone is happy with the results.