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Plans for New Department Headquarters Approved by Tynwald 20 November 2008

A motion for funding for the new Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry headquarters has been approved by Tynwald this week. The Department requested £5,279,250 for the construction of the new headquarters which is due to commence in December.

The new headquarters, to be called Thie Slieau Whallian, will be one of the first office eco-developments on the Island and will act as a pioneer for energy efficiency and sustainability in line with the environmental policies of the government. The design of the building has been driven by the site and current environmental thinking. It is designed to minimise the impact on the environment by maximising the use of natural ventilation and natural lighting.

The main volume of the building is a two storey barrel vault roofed structure designed to be reminiscent of a Dutch barn which is top lit by a central atrium. The exposed external structure is evocative of the many trees surrounding the immediate area. It is accompanied by a one storey section of building on the west side which has a fluid edge and has been designed to allow for the existing trees and plant life to remain. The roof of this section of the building will be covered with a sedum blanket which filters out pollutants from the air and absorbs carbon dioxide providing a productive ecological habitat. The building will be constructed mainly in natural materials and glass so that it appears to blend into the surrounding landscape. It will also be raised on stilts to protect it from any flood risk associated with the nearby river.

The Department requires a new corporate headquarters to centralise the six divisions which are currently based in various locations around the Island. The site adjacent to the existing Forestry Division offices on Hope Road, St Johns has been chosen as the location for the new development. Ashley Pettit Architects were selected and subsequently tasked with designing a building that is sensitive to its rural location whilst embodying what DAFF stands for as a government department. Auldyn Construction has been appointed as contractors for the project after a tender process.

Minister for Agriculture Phil Gawne MHK said: ‘This is a very exciting time for the Department and we are delighted that the plans have been approved by Tynwald this week. We are pleased to be able to lead the way for the construction of an eco-development on the Island and I am looking forward to seeing the project commence and develop over the coming 16 months.’

The construction of the new Headquarters will commence in December and it is hoped that the building will be completed by April 2010.

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