In 2008, Denton Corker Marshall was selected by English Heritage, in an invited competition, to design a new Visitor Centre at Stonehenge to replace the existing unpopular facilities. The new centre is located at the western end of the world heritage site, on land adjacent to Airman’s Corner and approximately 2.1 km from the stones.
Key objectives in the brief were that the new facilities had to be highly sustainable, wholly reversible and of extremely low physical impact on the archaeologically sensitive site. In response to these brief requirements, the new building is conceived as a perforated undulating metal sheet, pinned in the ground by a series of fine metal columns, under which shelters a block of timber and a block of glass.
The metal roof undulates to reflect the rolling landforms of Salisbury Plain and the visual effect of the sheet overhanging the blocks on the ground gives a transitory and temporary sense to the centre. This approach also ensures the solidity and timelessness of the stones is not compromised or visually diminished by the new structure.
This is the second visitor centre scheme that Denton Corker Marshall has designed at Stonehenge for English Heritage. A previous proposal, which gained full Planning Approval, was abandoned at the end of 2007 after the government refused to fund the Highway Agency A303 road tunnel.