Langley Vale Visitors Hub - Competition
The architectural language of the proposed visitor hub is directly influenced by references from barns and agricultural buildings found in the immediate area. These local structures are echoed and reinterpreted in the visitor centre in terms of their geometries and scales.
This visual semblance is evident in the overall look and pitched roof. The building takes on a modern interpretation of the traditional through the use of zinc cladding for both the roof and facades of the building, while the structure and walls will be built from Cross Laminated Timber (by KLH or similar). The building thus strives both to reflect its local setting whilst being a contemporary and inspiring addition that is integral to the landscape.
The visitor centre is placed at the highest point on the site and is orientated on the north-south axis to provide sweeping views across the site and beyond, including the Langley Vale Wood Memorial and northern views of Epsom and London in the distance. This positioning lays out the building in plan along both sides of the main entrance corridor.
The hub's accessible, sheltered and welcoming entrance is reached from the west via a designated path leading from the planned parking area. Once inside the building, the visitors' main circulation is through a central corridor with a large framed window to the east. This opening will fill the passageway with natural light and offer both a glimpse into the building as well as outdoor views.
All the services, comprising of the kitchen, public WCs etc., are clustered together on the south axis. The building is designed in such a way to allow access to the public WCs through a secondary side entrance when the visitor centre is closed. The service area shields the rest of the building from the noise and view of the car park.
The hub’s office and main space face north, with floor-to-ceiling windows. This allows for a striking visual connection with the immediate landscape and the more distant views. The landscape thus takes centre stage in the hub's main space. From here, there is access to external terraces that provide a place for outside activity, as well as seating for visitors.
Green technology will be used to deliver a self-sufficient building. The internal environment is designed to be as energy efficient and naturally controlled as possible, with heavily insulated walls and geothermal energy, providing heating, cooling and hot water. The main source of energy will be through PV panels installed on selected roof surfaces. A roof-based rainwater harvesting facility will provide flushing water for the public WCs.
The use of cross-laminated timber will accelerate the speed of construction, allowing for time savings on the construction programme and lower costs. Zinc cladding is weatherproof, corrosion resistant and not degraded by UV light. As a result, zinc roofing and cladding has a very long service life.