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Feilden Fowles wins funding for visitor centre at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

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The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) has landed £1.7 million of funding from Arts Council England for a new visitor centre designed by up-and-coming practice Feilden Fowles

The organisation near Wakefield now needs to find a another £1.7 million towards the costs of the recently approved £3.8 million scheme, having also received financial backing from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Foyle Foundation.

The rammed-earth project at the southern entrance of the popular attraction will house a 140m² restaurant, a 125m² gallery, a 80m² foyer and a 50m² shop.

Due to complete in 2017, the project is the latest in a series of developments at YSP which began with the opening of Longside Gallery in 2001 designed by Bauman Lyons and continued with the main visitor centre in 2002 and underground gallery in 2005 (both by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios), the transformation of the estate Kennel Block into a learning centre and café in 2011 by DLA Design and most recently the refurbishment of the Chapel in 2014.

According to the practice, which set up in 2009, the new building will sit in a former quarry and will be ‘constructed of stabilised rammed earth, creating a sedimentary patina that relates to the sandstone below’.

Peter Murray executive and founding director of YSP, said: ’The new visitor centre is a reflection of our ambition to increase long-term resilience and sustainability by building audiences, further developing our artistic programme, and increasing visitor income.

’In our 40th anniversary year, the centre will provide an important new element to our physical infrastructure, bringing together all of the successful elements of previous developments.

He added: ’It will provide a platform to sustain and increase visitor numbers over the next decade, offering exciting new artistic experiences for the public to enjoy, while boosting our commercial income, providing sustainability in the long term as reductions in public funding continue to take effect.’

Founded in 1977 within the parkland of Bretton Hall close to junction 38 of the M1, YSP boasts work by both British and international artists - including sculptures by locally born Barbara Hepworth - and features one of the largest open-air displays of Henry Moore’s bronzes in Europe.

Feilden Fowles' proposed visitor centre at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Feilden Fowles’ proposed visitor centre at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Site plan

Architect’s view

‘The linear form and orientation protects the building from the nearby motorway and parking to the east, forming a sheltered, sunken south-west facing terrace and harnessing views across the park towards the Lower Lake and Bretton Hall.

‘The building incorporates a pioneering low-energy control system using unfired clay bricks to provide a passive humidity buffer, maintaining favourable conditions within the gallery. This is combined with a highly insulated envelope, natural ventilation, air-source heat pump and a dense acid-moorland green roof, to achieve a robust and passive design approach.

‘The new gallery space is distinguished by an in-situ concrete saw-tooth roof veiled in translucent GRP panels, ensuring a soft north light for the display of artworks.

‘The gallery will give visitors access to some of the greatest art of the 20th and 21st centuries through a changing programme of temporary exhibitions. The centre will also increase understanding and access to the landscape, ecology and heritage of the historic 500-acre Bretton Estate that YSP occupies, as well as the sculpture presented throughout the park.

‘The new restaurant will continue to offer visitors high quality service while a new shop will extend YSP’s highly successful retail operation, selling limited edition lines by artists and designers.’

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