A forest of trees, in harmony with the Wiltshire landscape, welcomes visitors to Stonehenge. To rationalize access to the archaeological area, and to add new contents, an accessway has been made that attempts to restore the area to its natural appearance. The designers, of the studio Denton Corker Marshall, have created an non-invasive point of entry to a unique, inimitable setting that requires no ulterior characterization.
A light structure with slender steel columns to support a slightly sloping curved roof. The spaces inside have various functions: an exhibition area, clad in wood, an airy, luminous refreshment zone, and a transparent education area.
The idea is to connect the interior of the building to the evocative surrounding landscape. The designers wanted the interiors to be visible from the outside in order to encourage people to enter, while inside they can enjoy natural light and the view of the landscape. Therefore the choice of the glass to use was of fundamental importance.
The glass was a major challenge, because to reach a height of 4.3 meters means the glass must be strong enough to stand up to forceful wind, while also complying with regulations in terms of energy savings, thus emitting little heat. Finally, the glass had to be as transparent as possible, to enhance the indoor-outdoor relationship.
The solution utilized is Pilkington Planar™ Intrafix, a structural glass system that permits attachment with hidden tabs, leaving the surface free from floor to ceiling. Since the pavilion is completely transparent on four sides, the other goals of the project were to maximize natural light while reducing energy dispersion from inside: this has been achieved thanks to the use of chamber glass in Pilkington Optiwhite™ (with a perfectly neutral color) and Pilkington K Glass™ OW (low-emission glass with pyrolytic cladding).