Jessop and Cook Architects has submitted plans for a £1 million visitor centre for the Oxford Artisan Distillery at the top of the city’s South Park
The copper and charred-timber clad 345m² building will house a beer-tasting area as well as a café and toilets which will be open to the public.
Work is expected to start on site early next year and complete in autumn 2018.
The architect’s view
The site sits at the top of South Park and to the south of Cheney Lane in Headington, Oxford, within the Headington Hill Conservation Area.
The plot is comprised of the remnants of a farm originally known as Headington Farm, which then became Cheney Farm, and it contains a Grade II-listed, derelict 18th-century barn, alongside other more recently built and neglected buildings, which The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD) will restore.
TOAD is returning this largely redundant site into something much more in keeping with its original agricultural function. The most significant existing attribute on the site is the Grade II-listed threshing barn which would originally have been used in the storage and processing of grain.
Under a separate planning application, with listed building consent, TOAD is proposing to carry out light-touch renovation to the threshing barn so, in the future, it can be used to house the distillery stills and once again be part of the grain manufacturing process.
The grain that will be used is organically grown on four local farms and malted at Warminster maltings – the oldest malting house in the UK. The grains include varieties of pre-1914 wheat, rye and barley, which are likely to have been used when the barn was first built, relinking this historical farm to its agricultural ancestry and supporting local industry.
TOAD wants to create an independent sustainable craft distillery which will provide new opportunities within Oxford. TOAD has links with local businesses and existing tourist attractions, such as Oxford Botanic Gardens, as well as long-established links with local charities. For example, the proposed redevelopment of the site will help support Response, a local charity that provides mental health care in Oxford.
A percentage of the profits will be donated to Response and offer daytime apprenticeships in hospitality and craft, to help people with barriers into work by providing them with jobs and training. There are also plans to create work experience opportunities for students in local schools and to provide distilling and catering courses.
As part of the requirements of their lease set out by Oxford Preservation Trust, the distillery must provide: public access WCs and a café/restaurant that users of South Park can use. The business plan also provides within the proposed building: a tasting room and bar to host distillery tours.
TOAD’s proposals for South Park Depot have numerous socio-economic benefits for Oxford. These include the reuse of a brownfield site, the creation of at least 25 jobs in the first year alone, and new community facilities in the form of a café/restaurant that will provide much needed public access conveniences in the north eastern corner of South Park while the cafe/restaurant will bring a new vibrancy to the area.
The Visitor centre and landscape have been designed to enhance South Park and the site’s heritage assets. The predominant (south west) elevation in South Park boldly addresses the park, nestled behind a lower and upper terrace of seating areas. It is clad in charred timber, inspired by the internal charring of whisky barrels but chosen as a natural material suitable for the park, and suitable for its siting between so many mature trees. The remaining building is clad in copper – coated to prevent it from ageing – installed in standing seam to mimic the seams of the copper still columns in the distillery.
Proposed roof plan
Location South Park Depot, South Park, Oxford
Type of project Commercial (visitor centre with café/restaurant, tasting room and public access toilets for South Park)
Client The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD)
Architect Jessop and Cook Architects
Landscape architect Anthony Stiff Associates
Planning consultant Strutt & Parker
Structural engineer Peter Brett Associates
M&E consultant Elementa
Quantity surveyor Brading Butt
Interior designer DEXTEROUS - Interior Design
Main contractor TBC
Tender date Early 2018
Start on site date Spring 2018
Completion date Autumn 2018
Contract duration 6-8 months
Gross internal floor area 345m²
Form of contract and/or procurement TBC
Total cost £1 million