- Planning and Design
Planning and Design Process
The visitor centre was envisaged as a pavilion resting lightly on the underlying ground and “floating within the ruined elements of the White Castle”. This approach attempts to distinguish between the old and the new, whilst also being sympathetic and subservient to the historic and natural surroundings.
The building is sheltered within the ruins of the castle gate, and timber cladding and a glazed finish provide a subtle contrast to the existing stonework.
An archaeological appraisal carried out on the site imposed a series of constraints on the development and key details regarding the junctions between the old and new building fabric were agreed with Cadw. Although intended as a permanent structure, its design has a “reversible feel” and, if it had to be removed in the future, this could be achieved without damaging the historic fabric of the White Gates.
The central portion of the roof is raised above the main body of the visitor centre, allowing for better spatial definition of the existing ruin. This idea is continued externally, reinforcing the contrasting geometries of the new and old elements of the building, particularly when viewed from the battlements of the Great Tower.
Timber louvres are used to screen portions of the large glazed elements that offer views to the surrounding countryside and castle. This also shades the building, with the timber rainscreen panels providing a contrast to the ashlar stonework of the gatehouse, and echoing the use of timber elsewhere in the castle.
Heating and cooling
It aims to produce a building with a very low carbon heating system and is therefore heated via a ground source heat pump, with under floor heating throughout. Energy requirements are reduced with Warmcell insulation used to highly insulate walls, and an element of the building being located in the ground. Large window openings are high performance and also serve to flood the building with natural light.
There is natural ventilation throughout, including sensor operated, opening louvres to the shop that remove the build up of excessive heat in the public areas, which can quickly be filled by large groups of people.
- Design and Construction Information
Client: Cadw – Welsh Historic Monuments
Architect: Davies Sutton Architects
Date of Completion: February 2008
Contract value: £392,602
Site Area: 120m2 Building footprint
Awards: RIBA Award 2010, Consortium of Local Authorities in Wales (CLAW) 2009 Building of the Year Award (Commended in the sustainability category)