The environment surrounding the RSPB environment and education centre is bleak and untamed: an important wetland area in the Thames Gateway. The design had not only to be environmentally conscious, it has to be both defensive to resist attacks from vandals, and accessible and friendly to visitors. All this requires intelligent architects and this building has them. The strange colours of the painted wood boarding of the walls look exactly right in this landscape. The environmental measures include several sustainable initiatives: a ground source heat pump, photovoltaic arrays and rainwater harvesting. Heating demands are reduced to about 50% of those of a typical building.