Landscape Architecture: A Fluid Boundary
The visitors’ centre at the Giant’s Causeway is experienced as an event along the route to the Causeway and the coastline. It is an intervention into this landscape, carefully sculpted to facilitate movement whilst acknowledging the continuity of the landscape. The Giant’s Causeway is a remarkable formation along a remarkable coastline, the Causeway coast. The site strategy connects the coastal walk with the passage integrating the major movement routes into one point and heightening the visitor’s awareness of the extended coast.
Different Visitors: Multiple Routes
Many different types of visitor arrive at the Giant’s Causeway, nature lovers, those with an interest in geology, families with young children, school groups, those with mobility impairments. The site design allows for an uninterrupted relationship with the natural site that is the Giant’s Causeway while providing facilities to those that require it. The scheme has been designed to ensure improved access to the replacement Visitors’ Centre, to the stones and the Causeway Coastal Path. Overall, the replacement Visitors’ Centre will heighten the natural grandeur of the site ensuring the delivery of an environmentally and financially sustainable building for the future.
Replacement Visitors’ Centre: The Proposals
The aim of the international design competition was to find a design which would replace the prominent temporary facilities following the fire in 2000. The replacement Visitors’ Centre has been designed to provide an appropriate introduction for the visitor to the coastal landscape of the World Heritage Site comprising an integrated mix of approximately 1,815m2 of interpretation and educational facilities, tourist information and retail areas, catering facilities and areas of public support / non-public support space. The replacement facilities will also feature external areas such as public open spaces for circulation, picnic and public viewing including a green roof.
The design approach for the replacement facility has been informed by interrelated considerations from existing conditions including the relationship to the landscape and visual impact and the relationship to the existing listed buildings. The design is mindful of the existing ridgeline.
Two folds extend into the landscape as if to merge with the coastline yet fulfill distinct functional requirements; the east fold screens the cars from being seen from the ridgeline and from the road; the west fold houses the interpretative areas as its weaves into the visitor’s movement through the site.
The two proposed folds in the landscape create a passage which leads to the crest of the ridge overlooking the cliffs of the Causeway Coast. The passage, leads from the Causeway road and ascends gradually to the ridge line and its view of the famous coastline. As an intervention in this iconic landscape the design utilises the language of this landscape to create a distinctive building.
Building Sustainably: Environmentally Sustainable
In accordance with the International Design Competition Brief 2005, the building will be an exemplar of low-carbon design and best practice which includes the BREEAM rating of “excellent” as an objective.
A low carbon design has been implemented for the building, reducing the mechanical and electrical systems required by using the embodied energy of the building fabric and site. The building has no boiler plant, no air-conditioning plant, instead group coupled heating and cooling is implemented with the building fabric acting as thermal storage and a heat exchanger. The visitor centre has been carefully integrated into the landscape both visually and environmentally utilising permeable surfaces to reduce surface water run-off, maximising green areas and using indigenous planting.
|Location||Bushmills, Co. Antrim|
|Completion date||2009 – 2011|
|Project team||Henegan Peng – Award Winning ArchitectsAerial Perspective – Henegan PengComputer Generated Ground Level Images – Archimations|
|Category||Parks and gardens|