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Pavilion and Visitors’ Centre

Pavilion and Visitors’ Centre

Structural Award Highly Commended 2006

Location: Alnwick, Northumberland
Client/Owner: John Lovett, The Alnwick Garden Trust
Architect: Hopkins Architects
Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
Main Contractor/Builder: Sir Robert McAlpine
Joinery: Benchmark
Wood Species: Cedar, Douglas Fir, Larch

The Alnwick Garden is the North East’s largest visitor attraction. The Pavilion and Visitor Centre, phase two of the garden’s development, was opened in April 2006.

The building has a barrel-vaulted diagrid roof supported on timber masts and spars. The walls have horizontal timber boarding. The building is designed to appear almost entirely transparent so visitors can enjoy the views and attraction of the garden year round. The timber structure emphasises the beauty of wood as a natural product and its sustainability as a building resource.

The timber structure is made out of FSC certified English Larch sourced locally in Wiltshire. This was important to achieve minimum material miles. The beams and columns were laminated from Larch. The columns were then turned on a specially converted lathe before being sawn in half in the planking mill to take the internal steelwork.

Larch was an ideal wood to use with minimal distortion and cracking adding to the natural feel of the building.