An extended café and hub for ramblers in the Peak District blends into the landscape through careful choice of materials, colours and planting
RIBA East Midlands Regional Award winner
Destination Longshaw, Longshaw, Derbyshire
Studio Gedye for the National Trust
Contract value: Confidential
The National Trust is well known for its large country houses, each of which comes with a set of expectations from the members and visitors. However, what happens when there is no historic house to visit and instead the experience is all about being in the countryside in a glorious, but no doubt occasionally bleak, moorland setting?
An existing café on this site was part of the stables for the grade II-listed Longshaw Lodge, a former hunting lodge for the estate. The lodge is not part of the National Trust experience, as it has a variety of separate private tenants. The existing buildings are therefore curtilage listed, though development in the 1960s saw the structures expand with a lean-to extension and multiple garages and other outbuildings of a less sensitive nature. When added to the Peak District National Park setting, these factors gave the architect plenty of challenges, but also plenty to respond to in its brief to create a ramblers’ café.
Destination Longshaw rises to these various challenges and creates a building whose spirit of place, and even of purpose, are a key factor in improving the visitor experience.
A masterplan was developed and after constructive engagement with the planning department and other stakeholders, including public consultations, the consequent building is pretty much exactly as the original planning submission, showing the value of such engagement.
While there is the usual car park which enables the building to act as a 'gateway' to the Peak District to those visiting from nearby Sheffield, visitors will often arrive on foot from different directions in the landscape. The building operates as a hub for this, providing café and toilet facilities, as well as shelter and a place to rest. Muddy boots are welcome here.
When seen from afar, the new extension is screened by retained planting and trees, and the choice of materials and their colours help it blend into the landscape. Deep set windows increase overhangs and reduce reflections. An extension, with its pitched roof and zinc finish, wraps around to create a second courtyard, juxtaposed with the historic listed courtyard on the other side of the stables. The courtyard and delightful covered canopy, with its exposed timber structure and soffit, give shelter to those experiencing the outdoors in all seasons.
Central to the building's response to sustainability has been the inherent reduced embodied energy in the reuse of the building. This also meant that the 1960s extension has been retained, but where stone was removed for interventions, it has been reused elsewhere, and previously small windows have been enlarged giving views of the countryside. Further simple passive design features help, such as a new roof overhang for shelter and shade, the extent of glazing into the new courtyard increasing natural light, and a relatively light touch for mechanical plant.
The café is warm and welcoming, even on the busiest days. Materials have been chosen for their durability and sustainability but also their warmth and comfort.
The visitor centre as a building type or of certain appearance is becoming somewhat ubiquitous, but Destination Longshaw feels like a valuable example of a relatively humble building that has responded to its context and brief in many simple yet delightful ways.
Contractor: T & C Williams (Builders)
Structural engineer: Nashmead Consulting Engineers
Environmental / M&E engineer: Anderson Green
Cost consultant: BWA Europe
Landscape architect: Draw UK
Interior design: Inspire
Acoustic engineer: Noise Assess (Sheffield)
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