Archaeologists may have just discovered the body of Richard III under a car park in Leicester, but they would find something very different under the new parking facilities at Stonehenge and under its new visitor centre.
The biggest find at Stonehenge for metal detectors, at least, is likely to be the Tubosider perforated pipe soakaways now being installed beneath the site’s new visitor centre and coach park.
English Heritage is currently realising 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 new visitor centre is being built 1.5 miles away at Airman’s Corner with high quality exhibition and education facilities, while a low-key visitor transit system will shuttle visitors to and from a drop-off point close to the Stones.
The removal of the current car park and facilities at the Stones will allow the area to be returned to grass, leaving only a minimal operations and security base and emergency toilets. The link from Stonehenge Bottom to Byway 12 will also be stopped up and reverted to grass.
To provide stormwater attenuation for this prestigious and sensitive project, Tubosider has again been working with main contractor Vinci Construction and groundworks subcontractor Woodmace.
Our solution for the coach park is 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 are assessed for sustainability and access for all. The simplicity of the visitor centre’s design will allow it to be built with minimal disturbance to the landscape.
The architectural design 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.
The new visitor centre will make it possible for the first time to present the fascinating story of Stonehenge on site. Besides important objects in the archaeological gallery, there will be three Neolithic houses outside, recreated using extremely rare evidence of domestic buildings from prehistoric England recently unearthed near Stonehenge.