Overlooking the historic landscape of lake, wood and pasture, The Weston, a new visitor centre and gallery, emerges from its hillside setting in Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Yorkshire, England. Set within a former quarry, the 673m2 building includes a gallery, interpretation space, restaurant and shop.
Given the site’s exposure to harsh weather and prevailing winds, it was decided early on that an appropriate building would sit low in the landscape. Inspired by works of land art and sculpture, including vast site-specific artworks such as Michael Heizer’s ‘Double Negative’ and Robert Morris’ ‘Observatory No. 5’, a concept emerged of a monolithic form emerging from a cut in the land, which developed into a building nestled into the hillside and yet emerging as a solid, man-made intervention.
The single-storey building has two façades: the arc-shaped western elevation, which is glazed at the southern end where the restaurant is located, providing stunning views across the park; and the east elevation, a 50m-long wall of layered concrete, centrally split by the main entrance.
This sculptural, solid wall, subject to extensive material research and testing, works partly as a buffer to the nearby, busy Huddersfield Road, as well as a new threshold for visitors to pass through when they enter the park.
Research exploring concrete mixes of different pigments and aggregates, combined with a retardant on the face of the shuttering and post-striking jet-washing, produced a layered concrete wall of local stone types – limestone, granite and sandstone – with a textured surface that subtly resembles layers in the millstone grit soil strata beneath.
The gallery is distinguished from the rest of the building by a cast in-situ white pigmented concrete, fair-faced on the walls and board-marked on the soffit of the rooflights, with a semi-translucent GRP canopy gently filtering light from above, protecting the artworks on show inside. The space will host temporary exhibitions of work by modern artists to complement the collection in the park’s outdoor space.
Project: Bretton Country Park Visitor Centre
Location: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield