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Admissions building at Old Wardour Castle

The previous collection of timber structures which greeted visitors had clearly had nothing to recommend them, but their position next to the way in from the car park was one that worked well. The judges were agreed that their replacement took full advantage of its location, which included a glorious backdrop of trees beneath which the new building is properly self-effacing, as the starting point for a visit to one of Wiltshire’s truly great historic structures. Its overall form is simple and flat-roofed, constructed of timber and with vertical larch slatting the main visible material, olive-green in colour for the fascia and columns on the face of the building, natural for the entrance area beyond. In the actual ticket office plus shop the theme continues, with natural timber joists left open. The timber columns were felt to be particularly well designed, terminating on pieces of concrete but with short downward projections of another hitherto unseen layer of larch, behind the joins in the facing pieces. The columns enable the rainwater disposal system to be concealed, and generally services are well hidden to avoid any clutter. Neat shutters, hidden when not in use, enable security to be maintained in this isolated location. The building was a test project for English Heritage, to explore the reduction of energy use and embodied carbon, which was achieved by various means, including an air source heat pump and a green roof. Its merits need more than a casual glance, to appreciate the care that’s been taken over it. As a greatly improved welcome for visitors, and for its very well thought-out appearance in the shadow of the splendid ruined castle, the new building was felt to be fully worthy of an award.

Architects: Connolly Wellingham Architects, Bristol

Photo: English Heritage