Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre and Museum
by Simpson and Brown
Client English Heritage
Awards RIBA Yorkshire Award 2017
As one drops into Rievaulx via a series of meandering roads, the visitor is greeted with an air of tranquillity and a beautifully sculpted gateway in the form of the visitor centre nested behind a tree. A sense of rhythm, order, and simplicity of structure defines the formal arrangement of the new architectural order. The materials and detail demonstrate a quality of the craftsmanship and convey a sense of humility and calmness as if not to disturb the monastic rituals of the abbey behind.
The visitor centre appears to remain in the shadow of the monastery, acting as a gateway onto the site with its serenade of arches as one moves towards the ruins of the 12th century abbey. Simple glazed gable ends serve to minimise the physical interruptions between the visitor and panorama of the abbey. The detailing of the internal elements is exquisite, enhancing the quality of lights, focus and at the same time framing and guiding the visitors to experience the natural elements of the immediate setting.
The design of the new modern ‘Gothic’ timber structure clearly draws its inspiration from the existing columns and arches of the abbey - a simple but effective device in the contextualising of the project. This sensibility is further extended to the incorporation of the existing structure and the small museum building beyond the visitor centre.
The detailed complexity of the project belies its modest scale; simplicity of form and its desire to be subservient to the main abbey remain its strengths.
Contractor Simpson (York) Ltd
Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant RNJ Partnership LLP
Structural Engineers Dossor MCA
M&E Engineers Services Design Solution Ltd
Principal Designer RNJ Partnership LLP