Savill Building, Windsor Great Park Development, Image, England, Architect, Award, Photo

Savill Building : Windsor Great Park

Rural Architecture in Berkshire, England – design by Glen Howells Architects, UK

4 Jun 2007

Savill Building

Windsor Great Park, southeast England, UK
Design: Glen Howells Architects

Wood Awards – Gold Award 2006

Savill Building Windsor Great Park
Savill Building photo : The Crown Estate. Warwick Sweeney Photography

The Savill Building : Stirling Prize 2007 Shortlist

26 Jun 2006

The Savill Building : Windsor Great Park Opens

The Savill Building, a new iconic visitor centre commissioned by The Crown Estate is to be officially opened by HRH, The Duke of Edinburgh on Monday 26 June. Designed by Glenn Howells Architects, provides a new entrance to The Savill Garden and the gateway to The Royal Landscape, a unique man-made landscape located in the south-eastern corner of The Crown Estate’s Windsor Great Park.

Savill Building Windsor Great Park England
Savill Building photo : The Crown Estate. Warwick Sweeney Photography

The Savill Building will unite all visitor facilities including a ticket office, shop, self-service restaurant, seminar rooms, offices and a small garden centre all under one gently undulating gridshell roof, that appears to float over a series of linked spaces.

Combining the best in contemporary engineering with traditional craft skills, the bespoke gridshell roof is constructed from larch and clad with green oak from The Crown Estate’s own sustainable sources from the Windsor Estate. Its form in plan, 90m long, up to 25m wide and 4.5-8.5m high, is like a leaf gently falling across the site, and was created in collaboration with consulting engineers Buro Happold, Engineers Haskins Robinson Waters and The Green Oak Carpentry Company. Its complex rippling structure is visually compelling. On entering the building all eyes are immediately drawn upwards to the roof structure, which appears to hover over the internal facilities.

The Savill Building gridshell is comprised of four layers, with a regular 1m grid of 80 x 50mm of larch. The three-domed shape has a tubular steel beam running around the perimeter and held aloft by slender paired legs, the forces are funnelled down the legs to a concrete bunker structure on the car-park side and into large dumbel pad foundations on the garden side, and the whole building balanced by a series of below ground tie beams linking both sides of the building. During the construction of the gridshell roof the timbers were pliable, allowing the material to be bent into a specific shape in accordance with the complex 3-dimensional model.

The large size of The Savill Building roof structure demanded the experience of The Green Oak Carpentry Company, Engineers HRW and Buro Happold in order to harness the forces created by the bent timber within the steel ringbeam and back to the foundations. A crucial prototyping exercise creating a full size section of the roof enabled fine-tuning of the structure, its dimensions and joints.

Above the timber gridshell an aluminium roof system creates a waterproof layer and provides support for the oak rain-screen. The oak was chosen for the cladding for its strength and its propensity to weather naturally to a silver-grey, further complementing the use of oak elsewhere in the project for both the flooring and as a strong landscape element in the avenue leading to the garden.

The entrance is covered by a green roof, which is supported by an underground structure and planted with juniper, housing ancillary service spaces including the kitchen, storerooms and washrooms. Towards the garden, the terrace is slightly raised and fully enclosed with a curved glazed curtain wall opening-up spectacular views across the landscape.

The vast interior is subtly divided into three principal spaces, the entrance, restaurant and shop by two low level pods which house ticketing facilities, shop counters and exhibition space. These are constructed from light coloured Corian to clearly identify them as ‘furniture’ as distinct from the building structure.

The building is located on the former site of a mature beech tree plantation, which was partly destroyed by the great storms of the late 1980s. This position has an optimum relationship between the car park and the gardens. By retaining all mature trees and incorporating them into the car park and landscaping, impact on the existing landscape has been minimised. The existing arboretum has been complementarily expanded with native species carefully chosen by the Crown Estates Keeper of the Gardens.

Embracing the brief for The Savill Building, Glenn Howells Architects have created a highly sustainable yet iconic building that is a true enhancement to the landscape. Based on the topology of the site, the layout of the building blends aesthetic aspirations with practical constraints in a highly unique and collaborative structure.

Savill Building Windsor : RIBA National Award 2007

Savill Building architect : Glen Howells Architects

The Savill Building – Architects
Formed in 1990 Glenn Howells Architects has offices in both London and Birmingham. The work of the practice is based on simplicity, attention to detail and use of innovative materials. Over the past decade Glenn Howells Architects have been building up a strong reputation for well thought out buildings and quality architecture.

The Savill Garden, a royal garden, set in a royal landscape, is one of the greatest woodland gardens in England. The work of master landscape gardener Sir Eric Savill, it was created in the 1930s, and offers visitors interest year-round with its colourful displays of interesting and rare plants.

The opening of The Savill Building in June 2006 provides, for the first time, a visitor centre worthy of Windsor Great Park. Built to a unique and innovative gridshell design, made with timber harvested from Windsor Great Park, The Savill Building forms the gateway to The Savill Garden and The Royal Landscape. In addition to exhibition facilities, visitors to The Savill Building can enjoy a delicious selection of food and drink in the restaurant run by the esteemed caterers, Leith’s, and choose from a range of plants, gifts and books in the new shop.

The Royal Landscape is an area of a thousand acres of gardens and parkland, accessible to the public, at the southern end of Windsor Great Park. It includes The Savill Garden, The Valley Gardens and Virginia Water Lake. It is a man-made landscape, which has been shaped and planted over a period of 400 years.

The Savill Garden is open from Monday to Sunday from 10.00 am – 6.00 pm. Admission: £5.50 adults, £4.95 senior citizens, £4.40 groups, children aged 6-16 £2.75 and families (2 adults, 2 children) £15.00. Entry to The Savill Building is free.

Savill Building prize : Building Magazine Project of the Year 2007 – Runner-up

Windsor Great Park – Owners
The Crown Estate is the owner and steward of Windsor Great Park. The Crown Estate is an estate valued at more than £5 billion, including substantial blocks of urban property, over 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) of agricultural land in England, Scotland and Wales, and around half the foreshore, together with the seabed out to the 12 mile territorial limit. As owners, managers and guardians of one of the world’s most important and diverse urban, rural and marine property portfolios are underpinned by the three core values of commercialism, integrity and stewardship. The Crown Estate is part of the hereditary possessions of the Sovereign “in right of the Crown”, managed under the provisions of the Crown Estate Act 1961 by The Crown Estate who have a duty to maintain and enhance the capital value of the Estate and the income obtained from it, which goes to the Treasury for the benefit of the taxpayer.

The Savill Building – Building Information

Architect: Glenn Howells Architects
Client: The Crown Estate
Project Manager: Ridge, Construction & Property Consultants
Structural Engineer: Haskins Robinson Waters
Services Engineer: Atelier 10
Gridshell Structural Engineer Buro Happold
Gridshell Contractor: The Green Oak Carpentry Co Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: DBK Back Group
Bespoke glazing system: Haran Glass

Savill Building award : Wood Awards 2006

Glenn Howells

Location: Savill Building, Windsor Great Park, Oxford

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