A team led by Make architects has won the competition to design the proposed new Sherwood Forest Visitor Complex. This multipurpose complex will be the focal point to the 'Sherwood Forest: Living Legend' bid, that will be submitted by Nottinghamshire County Council and its partners to the Big Lottery in May 2007. This bid is one of six regional or nationally significant community regeneration projects to have been short-listed for the upper (People's Millions) stream of the Living Landmarks grants programme.
Seventy-eight Expressions of Interest were submitted to the first stage of the competition, from architectural practices across the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA. Make was selected from an exceptionally strong shortlist that also included (in alphabetical order):
Glenn Howells Architects
Niall McLaughlin Architects
Richard Murphy Architects
Patel Taylor Architects
Wilkinson Eyre Architects
The selection panel consisted of representatives from Edwinstowe Parish Council, the Forestry Commission, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Natural England, Nottinghamshire County Council, the Sherwood Forest Trust, together with an architectural adviser from the RIBA. The panel welcomed the teams' varied and considered responses to a brief which called for an exciting, cutting-edge building that will need to balance visitor experience against the environmental needs of a forest resource of national and European significance. The panel felt that Make's striking 'abstract tree' proposal had interpreted the spirit of the forest in a contemporary way and would provide a unique visitor complex/experience fitting with Sherwood Forest's international significance.
Austin Brady (Chair of 'Sherwood: The Living Legend' Project Management Board) commented:
'I am delighted that we have secured such an exciting and striking design for the new visitor complex that will spearhead our lottery bid for Sherwood Forest. What better landmark to symbolise the forest and its legends, than a structure based on the image of a huge gnarled and ancient oak!
The winning concept will deliver everything that future visitors to Sherwood Forest will need, topped off by a spectacular view over the ancient forest canopy from the building's viewing deck.
Picking the winning concept is really just the start of the hard work. All the partners involved in the bid will be working closely with the architects, designers, local authorities and local communities to get all the practical details sorted - everything from traffic management to ecological impact will need to be agreed in good time for the main national TV lottery vote later in the year'.
Stephen Hodder (Hodder Associates, acting as the RIBA Adviser) commented:
'The selection of the winning proposal presented a challenge because of the quality of the submissions from the strong shortlist. In addition to the demands of the competition brief and the remarkable context, the panel was seeking a memorable proposal that would challenge for the BIG Lottery Award later this year. The submission by Make addresses all three aspects; it offers a considered site-wide strategy, it represents a solution unique to its context, and a remarkable image that can only reinforce Sherwood Forest as a visitor destination'.
Ken Shuttleworth of Make architects commented:
'We're absolutely delighted to have won this very important competition for such a wonderful site. The Tree celebrates the spirit of the forest and will provide the public with a fantastic gateway to the UK's most famous forest, while spearheading the wider regeneration of the Sherwood area'.