One such institution is the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). Celebrating its 350th anniversary this year, RBGE is a world leading botanic garden with a reputation that stretches across Scotland and beyond, borne out of centuries of study and custodianship of plant and flora samples from around the world.
As it celebrates this milestone, RBGE are looking back with justifiable pride, but are also very much looking forward.
The BIOMES project is going to open up more of the work of the RBGE to the public and a new Education building will provide tailor-made spaces for RBGE to develop and enhance their public outreach activities. The latter building SPACE have been involved in, working closely with RBGE staff to determine the key spatial requirements and to validate the initial work done by our colleagues Smith Scott Mullan Architects.
While much of the media attention has gone on these two new buildings and on the 350th birthday celebrations (including a recent reception at Holyrood), SPACE is currently involved in a consultancy project that goes straight to the heart of what the RBGE’s mission is: to explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future.
If you visit the RBGE and take a tour of the Herbarium, you will see cabinet after cabinet, all full of flora samples; there are currently 3,000,000 samples. You will also see samples waiting to be added to the collection and some waiting to go to other institutions on loan. Demand for space is outstripping supply and RBGE need to provide a solution that will last into the next decade (at least). Library staff are also having to look at how space is allocated and how best to present items that range from modern textbooks to rare and priceless historical manuscripts. Both these collections (samples and books) are not static however; they are growing and will continue to do so.
With the global challenges of the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, the work of RBGE is more important than ever and thus there is a desire within the organisation to improve the way it stores samples, change the way staff work and upgrade the spaces they work in, to enable RBGE to respond to a range of challenges.
SPACE’s team of consultants are bringing their expertise in assisting organisations dealing with change (and how this impacts upon the design and management of spaces). Engaging with staff, asking often challenging questions of individuals and the organisation itself, SPACE’s job is to guide RBGE through the process, enabling a solution to be developed that, while it will not last 350 years, will ‘reset the clock’ somewhat and allow the organisation to address some longstanding issues.
Happy 350th Birthday RBGE!