Visitor centre boasts eco-features

New centre designed to blend in to landscape and boast sustainable features.

Landscape architecture firm Coe Design has designed an environmentally friendly visitor centre 244m above sea level that hopes to attract 400,000 visitors a year. The £2.5m Chilterns Gateway Centre, includes a café, a shop and teaching and exhibition areas, and boasts panoramic views of the Chilterns and Dunstable Downs. To minimise environmental impact, architecture practice Architype designed the structure to blend into the landscape. It features a woodchip boiler, a rain recycling system and a “windcatcher” that channels air through a 90m-long underground concrete “earth duct” to power the building. A representative for Coe Design, based in Weymouth, Dorset, said: “Landscaping has been designed to be sustainable, durable and indigenous.” Funding for the centre came from a range of bodies, including the -National Trust, Bedfordshire County Council, government and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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