Ollie Burton recently graduated from the BA (Hons) Architecture course at Arts University Bournemouth. This is his final major project “Botanical Observatory”.


Set within Poole more specifically a brownfield site located on the quayside, the site promotes the idea of boundaries and borders. Poole itself can be seen as a location that divides the natural surroundings and the built environment, it is a perfect embodiment of the urban sprawl concept whereby the man made environment continues to encroach and repurpose the natural environment for the needs of the city. Using this as motivation, the wider context was analysed in an effort to provide the concept a function. Alongside this approach the analysis of the surrounding geology was also considered utilising the suggestion that rock formations possess a permanent nature to them evoking ideas surrounding time.screen-shot-2015-08-25-at-13.16.32

The geographical position, in which Poole sits, surrounded by a natural harbour and penned in by large swathes of natural landscape makes the site a perfect recipient for the ecological infrastructure. Purbeck, Hartland, Holton, Studland, Brownsea and Stoborough are all nature reserves or heaths in the immediate vicinity which support the vitality of the local eco systems.

The location of these surrounding sites influenced the decisions with regards to client and purpose, using the National Trust as a vehicle for the development, the centre located in Poole, becomes a hub for environmental activity, whilst partnerships with respective heathlands and reserves ensures a sustainable, flow of seeds and botanic samples.


The function aspects associated with the archiving of seeds and botanic’s incorporate the survival of genetic diversity, forming the basis for provision of Staple food groups, textiles, horticulture, agriculture, breeding, raw construction materials, energy production environmental management and the maintenance of biodiversity.

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In a more poetic association, the study and archiving of these plants and seeds can map the symbiotic relationship between man and nature, the plant acting as a vehicle that carries culture illustrating the fragility of human life and the increasing pressures placed upon the natural world. Often the minute scale at which these plants and organisms exist, allows their life cycles and process to the viewed as microcosms of our own existence.
The relationship between man and plant is reflected in humans utmost dependence on their existence, not only for agriculture but the support of our ecosystem as a whole suggesting that whilst the plant it its immediacy is viewed as a fragile being, the structure and reach of its effects are wholesomely fundamental.


The botanic Observatory is a design in response to my final major project brief. A multidisciplinary studio that looks to the surrounding ecology through science and art in the pursuit of creative sustainable outcomes, promoting both contemporary creative practice and ecologically motivated learning. Observatory acts as an ecological Archive and seed bank placed upon the urban boundary of Poole and its surrounding natural reserves. Utilising a multidisciplinary approach concerning, biologists, agriculturalists, engineers, artists, and photographers to stimulate creative proposals concerning the observed ecology within the building. The building itself adopts a tapered programmatic approach to allow for the multiple disciplines within the structure to collaborate with ease facilitating the creation of diverse outcomes. This is achieved through a basic division upon the site using a large mass wall to compound the separation between public and private space which is perforated to allow the occupants to observe the botanic garden raised above the bustle of public life below.

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Find Oliver’s website here and don’t forget to follow him on Instagram: instagram.com/oliiverburton.