Between a rock and a hard place

Wednesday 18 Dec 2013

Stonehenge Visitor Centre opens today, 2.5km west of historic rock formation

Today saw the official opening of the Stonehenge Visitor and Exhibition Centre by Denton Corker Marshall. Located at Airman’s Corner in Wiltshire, UK, the £27m scheme has seen contemporary public facilities constructed to support one of the UK’s most treasured historic landmarks.

Stonehenge is a cluster of unexplained rocks set in a ring dating from anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. With more than 900,000 tourists flocking to visit the formation each year, the existing support facilities were deemed inadequate for demand and a design competition was launched to find a replacement.

Winners of the competition Denton Corker Marshall selected a site 2.5km west of Stonehenge. While the monument is actually out of sight of the new Visitor and Exhibition Centre, the location was selected for its strong transport links, lack of archaeological remains and remote distance from residential properties.

Opened today (18 December 2013), the completed public facility is a modern structure comprised of two volumes connected by a zinc canopy which rests on 211 slim columns. The highest point of the building is 8m, equal to that of the tallest trilithons at Stonehenge.

A natural colour palette has been used throughout as part of Denton Corker Marshall’s effort to create as little disruption to the local environment as possible. One of the key design features of the Centre is the ability to return the site to its original state with ease if needs be.

The canopy roof has been devised using a single ply membrane with an EPDM base polymer, free from halogens, PVC, bitumen chloride and plasticisers, and is recyclable. Locally grown sweet chestnut has been used for the timber pod and Salisbury limestone forms the paving both within and around the Visitor Centre.

The architects were keen that the design of the Visitor Centre should stand in it's own right and not mimic Stonehenge. Therefore the colour palette and material choices speak to the monument but there are no direct references to it. Sustainable elements such as on-site water collection and low-energy heating and cooling are used throughout.


Architects: Denton Corker Marshall
Project Associate: Angela Dapper
Client: English Heritage
Donors: Heritage Lottery Fund; Garfield Weston Foundation; The Linbury Trust; The Wolfson Foundation; National Trust; The Monument Trust; The Headley Trust
Total cost:
Structural Engineers: Sinclair Knight Merz
M&E consultant: Norman Disney Young
Quantity surveyor: Firmingers
Planning supervisor: Chris Blandford Associates
Landscape Architects: Chris Blandford Associates
Exhibition Designers: Haley Sharpe Design
Project Managers: Gardiner + Theobald
Main contractor: Vinci Construction UK

Key Facts:

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