Weston, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s new visitor centre comprises a world-class new gallery, restaurant, public foyer and shop.

The 662sqm, low-rise building at Europe’s largest contemporary sculpture park is set into a hillside in a former quarry and was designed sympathetically with the historic landscape by BD 2016 Young Architect of the Year, Feilden Fowles. The building has been designed to have minimal impact on the landscape and will host temporary exhibitions of work by 20th and 21st century artists to complement the artworks in the outdoor space. Skelly & Couch carried out full services design at the high-profile cultural destination, where the building’s internal climate was to be as naturally controlled as possible. Confronted with a site having no gas or drainage connections, a limited electrical supply and restricted services routes and zones around the building, some inventive engineering solutions were required. A scheme was devised using an electric heat pump to provide very high-efficiency heating and domestic hot water to basins, which enabled the conventional hot water flow and return to be omitted, saving over 50% of the energy that would have been needed to heat the hot water. The gallery uses a complex controls routine and humidity buffer, formed using hygroscopic materials, in conjunction with a standard thermal wheel heat recovery unit, to moderate the temperature and humidity without resorting to energy-intensive air conditioning.

Natural ventilation, coupled with passive measures such as solar control glazing and a green roof, avoid overheating to create a comfortable environment to the café; and the underfloor heating generates a feeling of warmth in the space even when there is a high footfall of visitors and cold weather outside.

Founded in 1977, the park occupies the estate of the 18th-century Bretton Hall and was the first of its kind in the UK, as well as the largest in Europe. Its open-air gallery includes works by artists including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Completion in 2019, the visitors’ centre is part of a wider strategy to increase visitor numbers and income to help counteract cuts in public funding.

Winner of a 2019 National Award and three 2019 RIBA Yorkshire Awards, including Yorkshire Regional Award, Client of the Year and Building of the Year. Shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2019.