A new visitor reception building replacing outdated 1970s facilities.

We were asked to create a small building of around 100m2 to house ticket sales, staff accommodation, visitor displays, toilets and a small area that would serve as a café or refreshment stand, serving the castle’s needs as a visitor attraction. Particular objectives for this project were that the building should be a low energy user and that the design should befit the location and respond to the archaeology of the site.

The remains of the dominant curtain wall of the castle form the back drop to the site for the new building. We decided to create a free-standing structure with a simple flat roof that allowed views through and below the roof to the enclosing wall beyond.  All new enclosed accommodation within, such as toilets and stores were treated as floating pods free standing below the roof canopy enabling the enclosure of the castle wall to continue to be experienced.

Timber shutters were added so that at night time the building could transform from a glass box into a solid timber enclosure as shutters are drawn. Welsh pennant paving is carried from the interior through to the exterior hard landscaping to retain a simplified material palette that can blend with the historic fabric of the site.

The environmental strategy was based around a fully naturally ventilated volume with space heating being delivered through a ground source heat pump installation. The roof is designed as a meadow grass green roof with deep over sailing eaves and if necessary the sliding shutters can be used to provide solar control during daytime use. The project was awarded BREEAM ‘very good’ rating.