What influences did you draw upon for the varying parts of the project design and what commonality did you deploy to blend the structures together?
The primary design element of the development was the curvilinear “living-roof” with its ribbon form, which was designed to seat the new buildings within the landscape. This dynamic roof form was used as a unifying element, beneath which were conceived a series of building blocks – the facilities building, the hotel and the pavilion. Each of these different blocks had distinctly different functions and each was addressed in a subtly different way.
The roof was developed as a series of twelve individual ribbons; each with its own unique geometry. Each one was supported with two glue-laminated timber beams (Glulam) which were visible from below. The intersections of the ribbons gave opportunities to create eyelid roof lights.
With the central, publicly accessible space, it was important to give the impression that the roof was a separate element to the buildings below. The Glulam structure was continued beyond the line of the buildings with generous overhangs.
The facilities building contains the primary retail and leisure uses; each of which overlooks a central communal seating area. This building was developed as a predominantly solid building form, expressed with locally sourced, natural coursed stone. Openings within the stonework were limited, but each was designed with deep reveals to enhance the impression of solidity.
The hotel element was expressed as a separate entity, with long format grey bricks chosen to tonally complement the natural stone. The hotel form projects into the facilities building and is expressed within the central seating space. The green roof ribbon forms are extended over part of the hotel to provide further unity.
The final component of the scheme was the ‘pavilion’. Located to the south of the site with a direct connection to the lake frontage, this element was identified as a distinct building form, dressed in sustainably-sourced timber cladding. Within this block was located a viewing gallery and visitor centre for the RSPB, with expansive views across the lake.
The addition of the Wildlife Visitor Centre is a highly distinctive feature. Who made the decision to include this in the project and why?
The original idea for a viewing gallery was a direct response to the uniqueness of the site and the proximity to the lake and the motorway. Early motorway service areas were often characterised by the inclusion of raised viewing areas where people could lift themselves above the traffic.
We wanted to reflect this feeling of separation and elevation above the traffic by incorporating a raised viewing platform. The move provided an opportunity to increase the height of one of the roof ribbons to create a focal point and to signal the development from the motorway.
Skelton Lake is a maturing lakeland bird habitat and the RSPB has been involved in trying to manage and enhance the quality of the environment around the lake for some time. We identified that there was an opportunity for them to use the viewing area as a base for their activity. It is anticipated that the facility will be used for educational visits.