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JDDK bags go-ahead for £10m Kielder Park visitor centre

Newcastle-based practice JDDK has won planing permission for its £10m visitor centre at Kielder Water & Forest Park

The designs for Calvert Trust Kielder, which provides accommodation and activities for people with disabilities at the 40 acre park, include a redevelopment of the existing activity centre to create a new visitor centre with offices, café, a climbing wall, caving system, bouldering wall and a games hall.

The plans also include the construction of 15 more cabins, additional car parking and landscaping, and a new woodchip biomass district heating system will be installed which will contribute to the energy needs of the new visitor centre and the existing building.

Alison Thornton-Skyes, principal architect and designer, said: ‘It’s a very exciting project in which the three disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture and art will interact to produce a stunning relationship for the Trust’s guests and we see this, hopefully, as just the start of a long relationship which will fulfil the Trust’s vision of creating a superb facility.’

Commenting on JDDK’s designs for the visitor centre, she added: ‘The over sailing “leaf” roof forms are inspired by the natural setting and provide protected outdoor areas as well as a striking, iconic form.’

As well as being accessible, the brief for the new visitor centre included provisions that it should be sustainable.

‘We responded to sustainable and environmental factors [by] orienting the building so that public spaces face south to maximise on solar gains, with solar shading where necessary, and back of house facilities discretely placed to the north.’

Funding will now be sought for construction of JDDK’s plans.

The Kielder Water & Forest Park has also been awarded £100,000 from Arts Council England for its art and architecture programme. Entitled ‘Seeing The Wood From The Trees’, the programme will include four new commissions for the park, which will be decided after ideas from the park’s visitors have been discussed by selected artists.

Kielder Water & Forest Park currently houses 20 pieces of public art and architecture, including the RIBA award-wining Kielder Observatory.

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