Our Project story

RHS Bridgewater.

Manchester, UK

Arts & Culture

Blending history with world-class horticulture.

Mark Hagger, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Mark Hagger

The largest gardening project in Europe.
Bringing people together.

Challenge accepted.

RHS Bridgewater, opening in May 2021, will be a major tourism and horticultural destination designed to bring the vision of 'gardens within a garden' to life. As part of a 10-year investment programme, we helped transform the historic grounds of Worsley New Hall, Salford into an inspiring green space for the local community and visitors to enjoy all year-round.

Images by RHS Bridgewater, Harris Bugg Studio & Hodder+Partners .

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It’s the first time in more than a hundred years that the RHS has taken on a garden project of this size. It will be an amazing resource for generations to come.
Anna da Silva, RHS Programme Director

Letting nature in.

Along with renowned architects Hodder+Partners, our challenge was to create a ‘Welcome Building’ that connected the surrounding gardens using high levels of glazing. Our aim was to provide the perfect start and end to visitors’ day. The historic location meant that it was vital for the site’s heritage to be protected but also be totally transformed and host contemporary features. To deliver this design, our engineering solutions had to ensure an uncompromised internal environment while highlighting the stunning architectural features: including a timber ceiling and supporting structural trees.

A green ethos.

The architectural concept involved a walk-through retail/cafe space with structural trees, populated with various low-height building pods (such as kitchen, administrative and classroom spaces). With sustainability at the forefront of this build, a planted wildflower roof had also been decided on to allow the building to blend-in with the surrounding landscape. Consequently, roof-mounted systems were ruled out and we needed to develop a solution where mechanical plant to a height no greater than one metre was contained above the roof of each pod.
Technical impact

Light and airy.

We decided on underfloor heating and cooling, in conjunction with a mixed-mode ventilation strategy, to achieve the cooler temperatures needed in the building during warmer weather periods, using IES dynamic thermal modelling to inform all decisions. Meanwhile the ground source heat pump solution (with LTHW back-up) made good use of the large expanse of surrounding landscape. To avoid the services being seen, we integrated them into thoughtful architectural features, and had grooves made within the exposed wood and glazing system to conceal them. Our Lighting Design team was also brought in to find solutions to create a combination of spotlighting for retail areas, along with a diffused light for social spaces – to define the zones within the building while maintaining cohesiveness.
Human impact

Inspiring a generation.

Our work on RHS Bridgewater’s Welcome Building has helped deliver a modern, beautiful space that truly underlines why horticulture matters to the world. The perfect place for visitors to start and finish their journey through the gardens, this sustainable green space will bring people together to celebrate nature. In fact, it was cited as being in the top 20 alternative ethical holiday destinations for 2020 before the opening was postponed to May 2021 during the pandemic. Ultimately, RHS Bridgewater hopes to welcome a whole new generation of people into the world of gardening, encouraging ways we can all work together to support our natural world.
Creating this new, iconic building and revitalised gardens is a once-in-a-generation project.
Key Figures
154 acre garden
5th RHS garden in the UK
£30 million investment by 2023

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Everyone deserves access to beautiful landscapes and glorious gardens, and for people living in Manchester and Salford, having an RHS Garden on your doorstep is a real horticultural treat.
Alan Titchmarsh MBE
Mark Hagger, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Mark Hagger