Visitor Centre, Sherwood Forest

The design for this building included an analysis of the different histories of the surrounding landscape. Rather than simply focussing on the woodland, we acknowledged the farmland and the industrial mining heritage. The building is positioned on the edge of the trees looking towards the two places of production, the mine and the forest.

The building was designed as two lightweight plywood boxes sitting on an earthwork podium. The upper timber volumes are like lanterns and provide luminous exhibition spaces overlooking the landscape. The supporting podium offers thermal mass for the lighter upper spaces. The architecture is based on this contrast between the light and the heavy.

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The lattice on the south face supports a cob-like earthen structure. It is a contemporary adaptation of half-timbering, a coming together of earth and wood. This absorbs heat and blocks most of the damaging south light from the gallery spaces. The plywood lattice on the north face is instead glazed with a bespoke laminated glass. Slithers of Silver Birch bark is sealed into the glass to give a diffuse, luminous effect like a paper lantern.