Planning submitted for Woodland Trust visitor centre in Epsom, UK

7 May 2024
Credit: Mark Wray Architects/Grant Associates

Mark Wray Architects/Grant Associates



United Kingdom

Progress on innovative new shelter at First World War Centenary Woods

A planning application has been submitted for an innovative new visitor shelter at The Woodland Trust's First World War Centenary Woods at Langley Vale Wood in Epsom. The core design team for the project, led by Mark Wray Architects, includes Tenderstream member Grant Associates as landscape architect. At 259 hectares, the site, which was used for training during the war, has been transformed in the last decade into a nature haven and a living memorial for those who sacrificed so much. Evocative stone and wooden sculptures are dotted around the site, which features a network of trails, footpaths and bridleways for visitors to enjoy a mosaic of natural habitats and woodlands.

As part of the Trust’s long-term commitment to ensure that the wood is accessible to everyone, the large new shelter - expected to welcome 180,000 visitors per year - is inspired by the leafy canopy of ancient beech trees. Seven double arch, glulam timber bays will create a 24m long shelter, providing a welcoming entry space to the site, basic protection from the elements and an accessible area for temporary exhibitions. The structure will be sympathetic to the landscape and built from sustainable natural materials. Outside, the opportunity to enhance local biodiversity is central to the landscape strategy, including the use of local provenance seed stock harvested from the site to extend the species rich chalk grassland.

Mark Wray Architects originally won a RIBA Open Competition in 2019 for the centre, with subsequent a revision to the brief leading to the practice winning a further limited contest in 2022.  Following the competition, Sarah Wigglesworth, RIBA Adviser, stated: “This project has been a great opportunity for a new practice to realise a highly visible public building. Each of the three shortlisted schemes were all stunning in their own way, making the judging process challenging. The selected project was highly imaginative, simple, practical and of its place, while clearly communicating the ethos of the Woodland Trust.” 

Lucy Nordberg
Tenderstream Head of Research

This tender was first published by Tenderstream on 03.12.2015 here

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