Skelton Lake Leeds, UK
Nestling in the Aire Valley to the east of Leeds, Skelton Lake Services is born of the local landscape and features a Wildlife Visitor Centre operated in partnership with the RSPB.
Located on the M1 Junction 45, this Motorway Service Area (MSA) is an approximately 15.7-hectare development that forms part of a strategic gateway to the Leeds city region. The architectural masterplan creates a resting place for visitors and travellers, connecting to the Trans Pennine Trail and ancient bridleways. There is a scenic route around the adjacent Skelton Lake.
In our first visits to the site, we investigated the wider area to gain an understanding and appreciation for the landscape and surroundings. We considered views from points including Temple Newsam House and Skelton Lake, close to the River Aire – and we recognised that the building should physically and visually connect to the landscape to take advantage of the setting. The development of the curved and overlapping ribbon roof form helps anchor the building and connects the structure to the landscape, while creating a dynamic and striking form.
The layered landscape surrounding the site is referenced in signature, undulating roof ribbons, which over-sail the main amenity building, business centre and 100-bed hotel.
The ribbons are planted with native meadow species to reduce the building’s ecological impact – they provide a habitat for local wildlife and a visually positive relationship with the surrounding countryside. Rain naturally irrigates the roof’s vegetation.
The roof creates a contemporary, dynamic form both inside and outside the building. It’s supported by exposed glulam beams that follow the curve of each ribbon and internally provide a warm, natural aesthetic. This also helps create a welcoming environment.
High-level clerestory glazing, incorporated between the ribbons, allows natural light into the heart of the building. We raised a break between ribbons to the south of the amenity building to create the Wildlife Visitor Centre, which has a viewing area overlooking Skelton Lake.
Next to the amenity building, the hotel has been designed as a solid, crisp block with small-scale openings. This provides a simple foil to the more open primary glazed facilities building.
As a flagship development for the City of Leeds, Skelton Lake Services aims to balance the needs of a range of transport users. It provides tranquil rest and play areas with access to outside space and walks, alongside amenities, fuelling and electric vehicle charging.