by Don Barker
Since gaining World Heritage Site status in 2003, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on the outskirts of West London, has seen several additions to its building stock. This work is part of a 30-year master plan for the garden to guide the historic site's future development.
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The most recent structures are the Alpine House by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and Sackler Crossing by John Pawson. An extension to the Jodrell Laboratory, also by Wilkinson Eyre, is also currently under construction, creating an integrated, accessible, and environmentally sustainable research environment.
Kew's extensive Site Development Plan was completed by Wilkinson Eyre in 2002. Principal Jim Eyre, who played a major part in developing the strategic vision, says their work unveiled some history that helps define the gardens as we know them today.
The 326-acre (132-hectare) Kew Gardens is a major international landmark, attracting more than a million visitors per year. It represents over 250 years of historic landscape, and is home to at least 40 listed structures including the Palm House and Temperate House by Decimus Burton and Richard Turner, the Orangery and Pagoda, and two ancient monuments, Queen Charlotte's Cottage and Kew Palace. Decisions to introduce new architecture to the site are not taken lightly.
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