Issued 14 October, 2022. Beyond the Trees Avondale won the prestigious Tourism and Hospitality Project of the Year at the 2022 Irish Building and Design Awards, presented at an event in the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin last week attended by professionals from Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Design who gathered to recognise and acknowledge the best in Ireland's Building & Design projects in 2022.
‘Beyond the Trees Avondale’ is a spectacular new visitor experience in Avondale Forest Park Co. Wicklow, combining a stunning 700 metre Treetop Walk with a 12-storey high Viewing Tower. Visitors to Beyond the Trees Avondale experience the beauty of Avondale’s tree canopy on the Treetop Walk and enjoy incredible views of the beautiful Wicklow countryside from the spectacular Viewing Tower created for the project by EAK Ireland.
Ireland’s newest visitor experience is a collaboration between Coillte, Fáilte Ireland and EAK Ireland. This €19m project at Avondale is part of Coillte’s strategy to create more world class visitor destinations and increase recreation spaces nationally, and will encourage international and domestic visitors to stay longer and spend more in Wicklow and the wider Ireland’s Ancient East region, driving economic and employment opportunities for local communities. Since it was officially opened by President Michael D. Higgins in July, over 200,000 people have visited Avondale Forest Park.
The Treetop Walk and Viewing Tower have been developed by EAK, a German company and an experienced developer of such facilities in Europe. All of EAK’s treetop walks, including the facility at Avondale, are designed to be easily accessible and offer 'access for all' to wheelchairs, prams and elderly visitors, making Beyond the Trees Avondale a perfect excursion destination for the widest range of visitors, from young to old and of all abilities. EAK Ireland is a partnership between EAK and Carlingford Adventure Centre to find the best locations to create amazing treetop walks in Ireland and UK.
Beyond the Trees Avondale was delivered in a forest setting with special consideration and attention needed in relation to the environment, the surrounding habitats, flora, fauna and biodiversity and in all of the materials used for construction and fabric of the buildings.
The integration of new and old buildings has been utilised to create a route for visitors, which operates a concept of compression and release, taking the user on a journey by which the landscape exposes itself through a series of curated views and moments, finally revealing the key view of the picturesque walled garden. Visitors pass through the orientation space and into the Seed Cáfe at first floor level, arriving at a double height volume with expansive views, continuing to the walled garden, pavilion and extensive forest beyond. The tower and walkway structures showcase the use of high-quality low carbon Irish wood for large scale construction projects and the buildings feature some of the largest and longest span glulam structures made using commercial grade c16 Irish timber. A showcase for homegrown timber innovation, the beams and columns bring a sense of warmth to the space and replicate the rhythm of the trees beyond, whilst polished concrete floors and glazing softens the threshold between inside and out and reflects the surrounding forest and historic buildings.
The timber used in the project is Irish-grown and sourced locally. The “Seed Café”, the “Pavilion” and the Treetop Walkway and Tower demonstrate the variety of ways to which Irish-grown timber can innovatively be used in engineered timber and panel board applications. They also demonstrate the sheer beauty, strength, and versatility of Irish-grown timber as a building material. Innovative, energy-efficient building services have been installed including industrial-scale air-to-water heat pumps and solar panels.
The timber buildings at Avondale, including the Treetop Walk and Viewing Tower, are designed and constructed using the most advanced production and prefabrication methods. They are made from high strength, durable Irish wood, and many of the trees were grown locally in Avondale Forest Park. Every tree harvested has been replaced with three more trees planted.
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