VIDEO: Updated designs unveiled for Northumberland’s new Landscape Discovery Centre

Updated design concepts for a new £10.5million Landscape Discovery Centre and YHA Youth Hostel at Once Brewed, gateway to Northumberland National Park, have been unveiled at a second public consultation event hosted on The Sill project.

During an extensive first round public consultation led by the project team from Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA (England and Wales), members of the public were asked to consider their likes and dislikes in terms of building types and materials for The Sill. The process revealed an overwhelming emphasis on the development of a sustainable building that is inspired by the natural landscape, in both its 3-dimensional form and the materials used in the build.

Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall Architects, the design team appointed to work on the project, took initial public feedback into the design process to produce two updated design concepts, and subsequent site plans, which were presented to the public for their views. Initial response to the new designs has been very favourable and as part of the ongoing process, The Sill project and design team are encouraging members of the public to share comments and feedback on the latest concepts, as the final designs begin to take shape.

Option A showcases a building which becomes part of the National Park landscape. With sloping green roofs, undulations and contours, the landscape’s rippling forms are reflected in this unique design, which rises out from the ground. Whilst still taking its inspiration from the natural world, Option B on the other hand is demonstrative of the rugged, craggy nature of the Great Whin Sill rock, with an escarpment feel and crystalline look. Two site plans have also been developed for each of the design concepts including options for access arrangements and car parking suggestions.

Alison Thornton-Sykes, Principal Architect at Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall, said: “It came to light at our previous consultation that members of the public preferred a hidden building type, which blends with the natural landscape and encourages exploration and discovery, but also gives a hint to passersby as to what is going on inside.

“Our design team has taken all of this feedback on board and developed two exciting new design concepts – option A and option B, both of which are inspired by the landscape but in unique and very different ways.

“We presented both designs to members of the public last week and initial feedback has been very positive with one option already emerging as the clear favourite. We would like to hear any additional thoughts and feedback on the designs so we can ensure we’re developing a building that will meet the needs of people from the local community and beyond. Now is the time to get in touch and have your say on The Sill before the concepts enter the final design stages.”

A once-in-a-generation opportunity, The Sill will create a hub of exploration which will extend out to the whole of Northumberland National Park, offering an extensive range of facilities for visitors from far and wide, local businesses and members of the community. The project team from Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA is now looking forward to the development of an extensive activity programme which will open up endless possibilities for the community and businesses on both a regional and national level. The team would like to hear from anyone who is interested in contributing to this programme.

Laura Sole, The Sill Project Coordinator, from Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “We’re incredibly excited that the project has now reached this stage. Following on from the last event, we’ve been able to build on what the public told us to develop the latest designs. We would like to hear feedback on both of the new design concepts, which will then be taken into consideration as a final design is produced ahead of our Round 2 Heritage Lottery Funding bid later this year.

“The landscape of Northumberland National Park is at the heart of The Sill project; the new building will become a centre of discovery connecting people to the natural world and it’s great to see the emerging designs and public feedback reflecting this concept.

“As the design phase moves forward, we are also developing our activity programme and would like to hear from people and businesses across Northumberland National Park and beyond who feel they have something to contribute to this. If you are a community group hoping to run an activity at the centre, a business looking to sell your produce from the site or a service provider who can help exploration into the wider National Park, we’d love you to get in touch.”

Jake Chalmers, Director of Property at YHA, said: “The Sill is a special initiative of national importance, which will become a gateway to Northumberland National Park, welcoming new visitors and offering extensive learning and participation activities for generations to come. The project team is currently working with the local community and education providers from across the wider region to develop plans for the new centre, across a diverse range of subjects. We’ll be looking to come back to the public again in September to hear feedback on the final designs and development of the activity programme.”

The development phase of the project has been made possible through funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Currently underway is an extensive consultation process with the local community, gaining their views and feeding into the design and build process as well as the types of activities they would like to see the facility host, before a final design solution is submitted for Round 2 Heritage Lottery Funding in December 2013.

Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA are seeking to secure an additional £2.5 million in funding for the full project costs and to make their vision for The Sill a reality, the project needs your support. You can support The Sill by volunteering, attending one of the project’s consultation events or making a donation towards the £2.5 million target.

The Sill team welcomes all feedback and questions from members of the public and is developing extensive solutions to all queries raised to date, including traffic management solutions to concerns raised over the safety of the busy B6318, Military Road.

For more information about The Sill and the upcoming events, visit www.thesill.org.uk , find The Sill on Facebook or follow The Sill on Twitter @thesillproject