The Sill Design Revealed

The Sill Design Revealed

The initial design proposals for the Sill – the proposed national landscape centre in Northumberland – which triggered our appointment represented only a starting point.

Working closely with our client, Northumberland National Park Authority (NNPA) and the Youth Hostel Association (YHA), Glen Kemp Landscape Architects and Cundall as planning consultants, we undertook two separate community participation exercises to gauge what exactly the local community in the Northumberland National Park wanted.

As this is such a large area, our first event in May was held across Northumberland National Park dually at both Once Brewed and at Rothbury to give all residents and other stakeholders equal access. During the well attended event, we basically started from scratch, presenting a number of interactive display boards under the headings such as Materials, Building Type, Landscaping, Sustainability and Activities and then asked attendees to place previously prepared cut outs on the boards to show their preference. For the site layout, we had a 1:200 scale model of the site on which we asked the group to place blocks representing different functions of the building in different configurations.

Following the event we analysed and tallied up the results of these initial preferences which were then used to inform us as part of our design brief for the next stage of the design development.

As a result at the next community event in June we presented two designs concepts; Option (a) was a ‘streamlined’ version which had the building rising seamlessly out of the landscape and took on board many of the communities’ preferences and design ideas, while Option (b) was a development of the ‘crystalline’ concept. The attendees were asked to vote on their favored proposal.

The ‘streamlined’ design, Option (a), was clearly the preferred version by most attendees, as well as other stakeholders, including the clients the Northumberland National Park Authority and the Youth Hostel Association, and it is this one that is now being developed to the next design stage.

One feature that came out strongly at public consultation was the desire to see a green roof. The design team took this and drew on the brief to create a building “inspired by the landscape and of the landscape”. The result is a proposal for an innovative, publicly accessible roof made from whin vegetation – some of the rare species that grow in the Northumbrian landscape. This promises to be one of the stand-out features of the building.

Stuart Evans, Project Director for The Sill, Northumberland National Park Authority, said, “In response to the original brief, JDDK have taken on board public and peer feedback throughout the development phase, to produce a design concept for Northumberland’s new landscape discovery centre, which is truly reflective of participative design. We are delighted with the result and look forward to sharing the updated designs with the community at our next public event.”

Members of the public were invited by Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA (England and Wales) to view the latest designs for Northumberland’s new landscape discovery centre, on Tuesday 15 October at Once Brewed YHA, off Military Road.

For more information about The Sill and the upcoming events, visit www.thesill.org.uk, find The Sill on Facebook or follow The Sill on Twitter @thesillproject.

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