Icosis were appointed in 2009 by Natural England to look at two buildings on Lindisfarne, just off the Northumberland coast. The first building project was to convert a 1950′s Coast Guard Lookout Tower to allow this to be open to visitors, and the second, to provide a new visitor building adjacent to the main route between the Lindisfarne village and the Castle. The projects, which were then taken over by the local Development Trust once planning permission had been granted, both aim to reflect the unique location, inspiring visitors to value and conserve the special environment that is Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.
The new Window on wild Lindisfarne visitor building is located just beyond the outskirts of the village on the main route to the castle and provides information relating to the island’s rich nature and wildlife. The stone walled and turf roofed building also acts as a muster point and education facility. The field on which the building sits is partly covered with pools of water and provides an excellent habitat for a great variety of birds. The building is intended to focus views out over the field and bird activity via a large window, whilst interpretation and an AV presentation highlight other wildlife elsewhere on the island during the various seasons.
The building is constructed using Pitairlie stone from Arbroath, chosen because it is similar in tone to the field wall running alongside the road. The stone walls were built “back-bedded” to appear as a natural drystone wall and pockets have been left within the stonework at high level to encourage small birds to nest within the walls of the building itself.
Externally, seats and information panels are integrated into the stone walls. For example, one of the stone copes folds up to form the sill of the slot window facing the road, whilst a bench is turned along different horizontal and vertical planes before culminating in the stone panel at the roadside providing an initial sign for visitors to the building whilst the steel frame above forms an aperture through which a view is formed of the Lookout Tower on the hill beyond. On the roof, the soil set-aside from the foundations during the works was reinstalled and allowed self-seed, ensuring the building sits comfortably within its natural location.
Internally, the walls are clad using specialist panels by Grayconcrete intended to match the colour and texture of the natural stone, and there are elements of etching and carving within these panels that sit alongside the band of interpretation material running around the walls. The stone slabs on the ground were installed in bands both internally and externally to ensure consistency throughout, and there are different local bird and animal footprints carved into the internal slabs to further enrich the detailing and assist with the interpretation.
The large window overlooking the external pool and fields beyond was formed using specialist Ornilux glass, the first time this product has been used in the UK. The glass contains a mesh of lines coated onto the glass (like a spiders web) barely visible to humans, which reflects UV radiation and alerts birds to its presence, thereby helping prevent bird strike and reducing the affect of the new building on the natural surroundings.
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