On a sunny day in April what could be better than a trip to local gin distiller Bombay Sapphire in Hampshire. Not only is the distillery a great place for a gin enthusiast, but also for an Architect (both boxes ticked!). Created by acclaimed designer Thomas Heatherwick (remember the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron?) the distillery is the first ever refurbishment project to achieve a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating, anywhere in the world. Not only that but the old paper mill is Grade II Listed and sits within a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
To gain its BREEAM credentials the distillery has a comprehensive energy strategy, reusing spent botanicals to fuel the biomass boiler and reusing heat from the distilling process to heat the glasshouses. The biodiversity of the river the glasshouses sit in has been enhanced with planting and a re-design of the riverbank. I could go on…
Beyond the written credentials of the project is the inspiring design of the buildings. The glasshouses appear to pour out of the windows of the brick Victorian building they sit adjacent to and into the clear waters of the River Test. The river laps the glazing as you explore the plants that provide the botanicals to create the gin and are surrounded by newly merged butterflies. The older buildings have been brought back to life with little architectural details enhanced here and there, and the copper stills gleam in the sunshine.
Bombay Sapphire has created a visitor experience which has brought back to life a beautiful old mill and been enhanced with exciting contemporary architecture. Add a little gin on the terrace at the end of the day and all in all a perfect way to spend a Saturday!