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Yorkshire Sculpture Park's new visitor centre to open on 30 March 2019

27 Sep 2018

Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s new £3.6million visitor centre – to be known as The Weston as a result of significant support from family grant-maker, The Garfield Weston Foundation – will open to the public on Saturday 30 March 2019.
Built on a historic quarry site within the 18th-century Bretton Estate, The Weston will upgrade the visitor experience at the East Entrance to the Park, less than one mile away from M1 Junction 38. The beautiful, light-filled building – shortlisted for the 2019 RIBA Yorkshire Awards – is designed by architects Feilden Fowles and constructed by Yorkshire-based company William Birch. It will increase essential capacity at the award-winning open-air museum and gallery in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, which welcomed over 480,000 people in 2017,its 40th anniversary year. The Centre comprises a restaurant (140m2), gallery space (125m2), public foyer (80m2) and shop (50m2).
The Weston Foundation’s Director, Philippa Charles, said; “The Weston Family was delighted to support this project to enable more people to enjoy the Park and contribute to YSP’s long-term financial sustainability”.
The Weston is carefully designed to have minimum impact on the site and, in common with previous YSP developments, to fit sympathetically with the historic landscape. Constructed from layered pigmented concrete, evoking the strata of sandstone bedrock, the building emerges from the ground and is defined by a concrete saw-tooth roof. Its low profile protects it from the motorway and forms a sheltered, sunken terrace with views across the Park towards the Lower Lake and Bretton Hall. 
Naturalistic planting, including a wild-flower roof, designed by Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects, is inspired by 19th-century Yorkshireman and plant adventurer, Reginald Farrer. Well insulated and naturally ventilated, the centre also features an air-source heat pump and a pioneering low-energy environmental control system which uses a passive humidity buffer to maintain favourable gallery conditions.
The centre will enhance physical, intellectual and sensory access to the landscape, ecology and heritage of the historic estate, as well as to sculpture presented elsewhere in the Park. The new gallery will showcase a changing programme of temporary exhibitions, with an interactive project by the important Indian artists Thukral and Tagra inaugurating the space.
The restaurant, with open kitchen and Scandinavian-inspired interior, including a wood-burning stove, will offer table service and a fresh, seasonal, and sustainably produced menu. The new shop will extend YSP’s successful retail operation, providing opportunities for both artists and designers. New product ranges have been especially developed, in collaboration with craftsmen and women across the UK, taking inspiration from nature and the landscape. Visitors will also be able to purchase produce such as bakes, honey and chutneys made at the Park.
The Weston is an important addition to the Park’s physical infrastructure, which began with the opening of Longside Gallery in 2001; YSP 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 the refurbishment of the Bothy Gallery in 2016. Named White Rose Large Attraction of the Year in 2016 and Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2014, YSP contributes around £10 million each year to the local economy.
The project is supported by Arts Council England, Wakefield Council, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Dunard Fund, The Foyle Foundation, The Sackler Trust, The Wolfson Foundation, B&M Retail Plc, The Arnold Burton Charitable Trust, The John S Cohen Foundation, Mtec, The Holbeck Charitable Trust, Catkin Pussywillow Charitable Trust, and other funders who wish to remain anonymous. Visitors to the Park have also contributed over £50,000 in donations to the project.
Peter Murray CBE, Executive and Founding Director of YSP said: “We’re excited to complete construction on The Weston which is an important part of Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s future. The new centre is a reflection of our ambition to increase long-term resilience and sustainability by building audiences, further developing our artistic programme, and increasing visitor income. We are very grateful to the many different organisations who have made this project possible, including our visitors who have provided invaluable support.”
Fergus Feilden, Director, Feilden Fowles said:"It is an honour to work on a new building within the historic setting of the Bretton Estate and be amongst such esteemed architectural and artistic company. The centre aims to be a timeless building derived from the particularities of place and sculptural land art influences. 
“This is our first realised public project making it all the more exciting. It is materially rich, deploying natural materials which have particular textures, patinas and earthy qualities making the building very much of its place and the land from which it is formed. We have thrown ourselves into the material research, numerous mock ups and large-scale trial panels to achieve the textures, tones and tactile qualities. 
“This project will be transformational to the visitor experience of the eastern part of the Sculpture Park and offer something completely unique to future visitors.”
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 construction of The Weston has allowed us to be part of the next exciting phase in the journey of the Park. The project has also been a great opportunity for our apprentices to work on such a prestigious and much-loved visitor attraction local to them. We all very much look forward to unveiling the new facilities.” 
Notes to Editors 
About the Garfield Weston Foundation 
Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded charitable grant-making foundation which supports causes across the UK with grants totalling over £60million each year. 2018 also saw its £1billionth donation since it was established.One of the largest and most respected charitable institutions in the UK, the Weston Family Trustees are descendants of the founder and they take a highly active and hands-on approach. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc), and Fortnum & Mason amongst others – a successful model that still endures today; as the businesses have grown, so too have the charitable donations.From small community organisations to large national institutions, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities and activities that make a positive impact in the communities in which they work. Over 1,800 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants. garfieldweston.org
About Feilden Fowles
Feilden Fowles is an award-winning London-based architecture practice, founded in 2009 by Fergus Feilden and Edmund Fowles. 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. Their projects often interpret historic, cultural or vernacular references to generate clear concepts with a legible diagram. Structural integrity and tectonic expression drive the detailed design process to deliver buildings that are at once robust and well built. Current commissions include the Fratry Project at Carlisle Cathedral; the ongoing strategic masterplan for Ralph Allen School, Bath; a new dining hall at Homerton College, University of Cambridge; and student accommodation at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. Built works to date include arts and cultural buildings, educational projects, heritage, workplace and residential. Examples include: Charlie Bigham’s Food Production Campus in Somerset; The Lee Centre, a £1.75 million Applied Learning Centre at Ralph Allen School in Bath; the Fitzjames Centre, Hazlegrove School; the London headquarters for watch brand Uniform Wares; and Waterloo City Farm, where the practice’s new award-winning studio is located. The work of the practice has been recognised with a number of awards, including RIBA Awards in 2018 for Waterloo City Farm and Charlie Bigham’s Food Production Campus; Commendation in the New London Awards Mayor’s Prize 2018 for Waterloo City Farm; 2017 RIBA London Awards and 2017 Wood Awards winner for Feilden Fowles’ Studio; 2014 RIBA National Awards and 2015 Civic Trust Awards for The Lee Centre, Ralph Allen School. The practice received the inaugural Young Architect Award in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) UK Excellence in Design Awards in 2015 and BD’s Young Architect of the Year Award 2016. 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
For press enquiries about Feilden Fowles:
Claire Curtice, Claire Curtice Publicists 
+44 (0)20 7613 1442


The Weston Press Release

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The Weston. Courtesy William Birch & Sons Ltd

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