From the one side, it appears fortified and monolithic; from the other, it is transparent and open. The visitors’ centre at the entrance to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park adapts itself completely to various requirements. In order to block the noise from the road that runs past the park the base of the building, which is made of fully tinted layers of concrete, is closed off as much as possible on this side. Towards the landscape, however, the structure’s extensive glazing offers broad vistas. Constructively, the long, low building consists of a surrounding concrete building with set-in wood framing. In the restaurant area, the wood surfaces remain visible; they are complemented by light-coloured poured flooring and white walls.
Fergus Feilden, director of London’s Feilden Fowles architecture studio, says: “The centre aims to be a timeless building derived from the particularities of place and sculptural land art influences.” In order to make the centre sustainable, its energy requirements first had to be minimized. The exhibition spaces are indirectly lit with daylight that streams though a concrete shed roof; this means that in the daytime, the LED lamps provide lighting support only as needed. At the entrances and exits, a windbreak reduces drafts. A highly efficient heat pump provides warm water and heating. The greened roof is planted with wildflowers and helps prevent overheating in the summer months. Moreover, the architects carried out pioneering work on this project. Ten thousand unfired clay bricks store moisture, which regulates and stabilizes the indoor climate in the exhibition spaces.
The development of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park began in 1977 with a donation of just 1,000 British pounds. Since then, the foundation has been concerned with making art accessible to ever-greater numbers of people thanks to lasting investments. Over the years, many other donations have led to the erection of two visitors’ centres, a training building and six other structures featuring gallery spaces. This new building by Feilden Fowles has again significantly increased visitor capacity at the park.