Woodland Trust visitor centre
A flagship visitor hub to create a striking gateway to the forest and connect people to nature
The new building creates a sequence of compelling, surprising and memorable experiences inspired by woodlands, in order to emotionally connect people to the Trust’s message.
The scheme aims to maximise visitor engagement by forming enticing settings for people to interact with and inhabit, and juxtaposing dramatic moments with spaces of peace and contemplation. The design has been developed to convey the essence of the Woodland Trust’s identity and values in tandem with the WW1 heritage of the site.
The striking form of the visitor hub is an abstract interpretation of the forest: The playful undulating roof echoes the tree canopy behind, and represents the new growth of young forests. The solid, rugged lower layer of in-situ concrete, like an enduring tree-trunk, represents the permanence of the ancient woodland around.
A core part of our approach was to provide places for interaction and inhabitation - to maximise visitor engagement. The sequence of spaces form a journey of moments that spark emotion: The bunker-like building is carved open to form a dramatic entrance, with striking, red elements that lead visitors through dynamic, light-filled spaces. These bold touch-points communicate the message of the Trust, whilst subtly evoking the theme of Remembrance through colour. An unexpected red courtyard provides a focal point for reflection, inscribed with WW1 dedications.
MEANING & MATERIALS
Robust exposed concrete walls are cast with deep relief to recall the textured surface of bark, seemingly fossilised as stone. The warmth of the soaring exposed timber roof counteracts the toughness of the concrete. The raw aesthetic of the exposed structure also maximizes the budget through creative means and reduces maintenance and operational requirements for the Trust.