The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre, Hexham

Harmonious building that seems to spring from the landscape

The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre
The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre Credit: Sally Ann Norman

Jane Darbyshire & David Kendall for Northumberland National Park Authority
Contract value: £8.8m
GIA: 3,080 m²
Cost per m²: £2,857

This project celebrates the landscape with a harmonious building that seems to spring from it. Its long sweeping roof leads the visitor from ground level to the apex of the building, where a platform provides views over Northumberland. The long-distance views of the scheme from Hadrian’s Wall are particularly well considered, as the mass of the building sinks into the hillside and here its roofs take the form of low-scale farm buildings.

  • The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre
    The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre Credit: Sally Ann Norman
  • The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre
    The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre Credit: Sally Ann Norman
  • The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre
    The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre Credit: Sally Ann Norman
  • The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre
    The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre Credit: Sally Ann Norman
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The approach to the discovery centre leads visitors to the curving glass facade, which is oversailed by a canopy of photovoltaic panels. Once inside, visitors find themselves in a space that opens through a series of exhibition areas, classrooms and social spaces, all with views of its surroundings. The judges praised the way the building interacts with the landscape and respects the historic setting. It stimulates and delights users of all ages and has already exceeded its expectations. The planting on the roof is particularly successful, using local grassland mixes to support local species.

The building was longlisted in RIBAJ’s MacEwen Awards 2017: The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre

​See other winners in the RIBA regional awards - North East 

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