Stonehenge Visitor Centre

Background to specification
English Heritage has realised a long-held ambition to improve the facilities for the many hundreds of thousands who visit each year, and restore dignity to the setting of one of the world’s most loved ancient monuments.
The project involved a new visitor centre being built 1.5 miles away at Airman’s Corner with high quality exhibition and education facilities, while a low-key visitor transit system would shuttle visitors to and from a drop-off point close to the Stones.

To provide stormwater attenuation for this prestigious and sensitive project, Tubosider again worked with main contractor Vinci Construction and groundworks subcontractor Woodmace.

Key criteria
Our solution for the coach park was a 2500mm diameter soakaway of 18.5 meters, requiring just one laddered manhole for access. For the visitor centre, a 2800mm soakaway only 2.7 meters in length is enough to give the required attenuation.

All the design elements for this major project were assessed for sustainability and access for all. The simplicity of the visitor centre’s design allowed it to be built with minimal disturbance to the landscape.

The architectural design for the visitor centre is for a delicately undulating canopy which sits lightly in the landscape with a pair of self-contained ‘pods’ – one transparent and mainly of glass, the other solid and mainly of timber – sitting beneath.

Solution & benefits
Archaeologists may have discovered the body of Richard III under a car park in Leicester, but their biggest find at Stonehenge would now be the perforated pipe soakaways installed beneath the new visitor centre and coach park.
The removal of the former car park and facilities at the Stones has allowed the area to be returned to grass, leaving only a minimal operations and security base and emergency toilets.

The new visitor centre makes it possible for the first time to present the fascinating story of Stonehenge on site. Besides important objects in the archaeological gallery are three Neolithic houses recreated using rare evidence of domestic buildings from prehistoric England recently unearthed nearby.