Patrick Parsons provided engineering designs for Northumberland National Park Authority’s new £14.8m state-of-the-art visitor centre, which will officially open its doors on Saturday 29th July.
The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, funded by National Lottery players through a £7.8m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, is situated in the heart of Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site and is the result of an innovative partnership between Northumberland National Park and YHA (England & Wales).
The building features fixed and temporary exhibitions focusing on landscape, culture and heritage, as well as several learning and event spaces which will help to transform how people engage with nature and the great outdoors of Northumberland and the wider region. The Sill also houses a world-class Youth Hostel, a rural business hub to support rural enterprises, as well as a café and shop packed with local produce, arts and crafts.
Patrick Parsons have been working on the project for the last four years, providing structural, civil and geoenvironmental engineering services.
The 2,900 m2 building works with the natural contours of the site and is partially embedded in the landscape to minimize its impact on the scenery. The complex geometry of the building incorporates a sloping fully accessible grassland roof – the only one of its kind in the world – with a viewing platform providing views over the site.
Stuart Evans, Head of Corporate Services for Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “The unique design of The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre required experienced and high quality structural design services.
“Patrick Parsons’ design and approach enabled the National Park Authority to confidently progress with the installation of a publicly accessible local grass and wild flower roof to take the weight of over one metre of soil and supported drainage substrata, whatever the weather. This is the first time such a facility has been designed into a building in the UK.”