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Yorkshire Sculpture Park ‘breaks ground’ on new visitor centre

19 Apr 2017

Construction of Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s (YSP) ambitious new £3.8 million visitor centre has begun.
 
The building – designed by architects Feilden Fowles and constructed by Yorkshire-based construction company William Birch – will build capacity at the award-winning visitor attraction which attracts around 500,000 people every year and celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2017.
 
Scheduled for completion at the end of March 2018 and opening in the summer, the new centre will enhance the visitor experience at the southern entrance to the Park, less than one mile away from M1 Junction 38, and contribute to YSP’s long-term financial sustainability.
 
The environmentally friendly building has been designed to make minimum impact on the site and, in common with previous YSP developments, to fit sympathetically with the historic landscape. It will comprise a 140m2 restaurant, 125m2 gallery space, an 80m2 public foyer and a 50m2 shop.
 
A world-class gallery space will give visitors access to some of the greatest art of the 20th and 21st centuries through a changing programme of temporary exhibitions. The centre will also increase physical, intellectual and emotional access to the landscape, ecology and heritage of the historic 500-acre Bretton Estate, as well as the sculpture presented elsewhere in the Park.
 
The new restaurant will continue to offer visitors high quality service while a new shop will extend YSP’s successful retail operation, providing opportunities for both artists and designers. The building will be well insulated and naturally ventilated, featuring an air-source heat pump for heating and a dense green roof. It will incorporate a pioneering low energy environmental control system using a passive humidity buffer to maintain favourable conditions in the gallery.
 
The new visitor centre is an important addition to the Park’s physical infrastructure, which began with the opening of Longside Gallery in 2001; the main visitor centre in 2002; the Underground Gallery in 2005; the transformation of the estate Kennel Block into a learning centre and café in 2011; the restoration of the Chapel in 2014; and most recently the refurbishment of the Bothy Gallery in 2016.
 
The project is supported by Arts Council England, Wakefield Council, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation and other funders who wish to remain anonymous.
 
Guy Laurie, Director of Operations at YSP said:
“We’re excited to start construction in our 40th anniversary year on a building which will be an important part of our future. The new visitor centre is a reflection of our ambition to increase long-term resilience and sustainability by building audiences, further developing our artistic programme, and improving visitor experience.”
 
Fergus Feilden, Director, Feilden Fowles said:
"We are thrilled the project is starting on site with William Birch Construction. The design remains on budget and retains the crafted and bespoke elements which make it unique. Construction will take a year and the visitor centre will open by summer 2018, sitting alongside eminent previous projects at the Sculpture Park.”
 
Gemma Shahjahan, Business Development Director of William Birch said:
“Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a huge asset to the arts and leisure scene in the Yorkshire region and our project team are looking forward to being a key part of delivering the next phase of its exciting development. We have built an enviable portfolio of award-winning, sustainable and striking visitor facilities in Yorkshire and we are delighted to add this highly prestigious project to that repertoire”.
 
Notes to Editors
 
About Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is the leading international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2017. It is an independent charitable trust and registered museum (number 1067908) situated in the 500-acre, 18th-century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire. Founded in 1977 by Executive Director Peter Murray, YSP was the first sculpture park in the UK, and is the largest of its kind in Europe, providing the only place in the world to see Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man in its entirety alongside a significant collection of sculpture, including bronzes by Henry Moore, and site-specific works by Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and James Turrell. YSP also mounts a world-class, year-round temporary exhibitions programme including some of the world’s leading artists across five indoor galleries (space totaling 1,465m2 including the proposed new gallery) and the open air. Recent highlights include exhibitions by Not Vital, KAWS, Bill Viola, Anthony Caro, Fiona Banner, Ai Weiwei, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Amar Kanwar, Yinka Shonibare MBE and Joan Miró. YSP’s core work is made possible by investment from Arts Council England, Wakefield Council, Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation and Sakurako and William Fisher through the Sakana Foundation. YSP was named Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2014. ysp.org.uk
 
About Feilden Fowles
Feilden Fowles is an award-winning London based architectural practice, founded in 2009 by Fergus Feilden and Edmund Fowles. Feilden Fowles were recently named BD Young Architect of the Year 2016. The practice specialises in delivering socially and environmentally sustainable buildings across a variety of sectors and aims to make architecture that is rich in character and distinct in identity. Projects are inspired by local vernacular and apply innovations in sustainable technologies and construction techniques to existing and proven typologies. Built works to date range from the domestic scale through to arts and education buildings and masterplanning, and include: Ty Pren, a passive long house which is inspired by the rich local vernacular of the Brecon Beacons; The Lee Centre, a £1.75million applied learning centre and The Rose Building teaching block, both for Ralph Allen School in Bath; the London headquarters for watch brand Uniform Wares; and exhibition designs for the Jewish Museum New York City. feildenfowles.co.uk
 
About William Birch & Sons Ltd
William Birch & Sons Ltd is one of the Yorkshire's longest established family owned construction companies. Five generations of the Birch family have developed the company to its present-day strength, employing almost 100 local people. The business, based in York and Leeds, has an enviable portfolio of construction, refurbishment and restoration projects across a variety of sectors with a strong emphasis on sustainable and innovative projects. Most recent high profile projects include the complete refurbishment of the prestigious York Theatre Royal for the York Conservation Trust, the restoration of the Mansion House for the City of York Council and the award-winning highly sustainable Bramall Visitor Centre at the popular Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate. williambirch.co.uk
 

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(L–R) Denise Fahmy, Visual Arts, Art Council England; Allan Horsley, Contracts Manager, William Birch & Sons Ltd; Guy Laurie, Director of Operations, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Ross Perkin, Architect, Feilden Fowles. Courtesy YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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Bretton Country Park proposed development. Artist impression

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