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Niall McLaughlin Architects' timber framed Auckland Tower serves as gateway to historic site
United Kingdom Architecture News - Mar 25, 2021 - 14:34 5345 views
London-based architecture firm Niall McLaughlin Architects has designed a timber framed tower that can be an access point and gateway to The Auckland Project, a new visitor destination in the North East of England.
Named Auckland Tower, the project, located in Bishop Auckland, provides ticketing, information, and orientation for the refurbished castle and new faith gallery. The tower offers views over the town and landscape beyond.
The site is home to Auckland Castle, one of the most important and best-preserved bishops’ palaces in Europe. As the architects explain, in 2012 it was taken over by regional charity, Auckland Castle Trust, and is now being transformed into a faith, art and heritage destination of international significance.
In this project, Niall McLaughlin Architects were commissioned to design two parts of the scheme; the Welcome Building – a new ticketing and information hub with a viewing tower – and, in collaboration with Purcell, a new extension to the existing Scotland Wing of the Grade I listed Castle complex to house the Faith Museum.
The site offers a spatial connection between the castle complex and the town’s Market Place. The long and tectonically-designed timber building was conceived as a long hall, reminiscent of a market hall.
The hall is raised above ground level and open to views of the Market Place and Castle setting, while also it can be used for exhibitions and events.
"The building’s other function is as the first port of call for visitors to the Castle and its various museums and galleries. It houses a shop, ticket office and toilet facilities," said Niall McLaughlin Architects.
As the architects highlight, the form and architectural language of the tower "is intended to echo lightweight provisional structures that would once have clustered around castle walls."
The tower allows people to look into the castle and understand the previously secluded world. "It would make the castle accessible to the town and its people," the studio added.
"The walls of the Welcome Building are engraved in-text telling the story of the castle through history."
On the first floor, timber shutters pivot open when the castle opens, giving the structure an open, kinetic quality.
"The ceiling of the hall carries stencilled representations," added the studio.
As the studio emphasize, they intended to design the building not simply as a container for interpretation but make the building appear in the representation of the site through its own features.
For the materials, the studio used a timber frame structure made up of from European Larch glulam. "The softwood is protected in grey surface treatment to help the weathering process," continued the team.
"This treatment will eventually weather off to reveal the silver-grey, naturally weathered wood beneath."
According to the architects, the grey exterior of the building creates a contrast to the luminous golden colour of the interior.
All images courtesy of Niall McLaughlin Architects.