Peter Busby, project architect

The mission of a botanic garden is one of conservation, so our team agreed the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre should have the same purpose. An image of a native orchid taken by Karl Blossfeldt was the inspiration for the organic form of the project. The building is organized into undulating green-roof ‘petals’ that float above curving rammed earth and concrete walls. Mimicking natural systems, the building is designed to collect water, harvest sunlight, and store energy until needed.

VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre

Through mapping and analyzing the garden’s ecology, our team was able to integrate natural and human systems, restoring biodiversity and ecological balance to the site. The building’s green roof and surrounding landscape were carefully designed to include native plants, forming a series of distinct ecological zones. A vegetated land ramp was included to connect the roof to the ground plane, encouraging use by local fauna. Old-growth trees were carefully preserved to facilitate an ecologically balanced system of wetlands, rain gardens, and streams.

The VanDusen Visitor Centre is pursuing the Living Building Challenge, which promotes the most advanced measurement of sustainability in the built environment possible today.