Battle of Britain Visitor Centre
|TYPE:||Cultural Public Sector Building on a Grade 1 Listed Site of National Historic Significance|
|CLIENT:||London Borough of Hillingdon, Volkerfitzpatrick|
|SERVICE||Provide Full Architectural Services|
|AWARDS||Local Authority Building Control: London Best Public Service Venue 2018|
Cultural visitor centre on a site of national historic significanceLondon, UK
In the centennial year for the RAF, the Battle of Britain Visitor Centre opened to the public to commemorate the role the Battle of Britain Bunker played in World War II.
The visitor centre for the historic Battle of Britain bunker was a rare opportunity to build a venue designed to enhance the experience of a significant historical site in a residential area. The centre is designed to sustain the ongoing viability of the bunker – the heritage site formerly used by No. 11 Group Fighter Command during the Second World War – to make a significant contribution to the RAF’s public engagement goals.
The design embraces the central themes of flight and stealth with a shell-like form and winged geometry. The space is organised to facilitate a wide range of activities and events, in orbit around the central display hangar that houses suspended WWII Spitfire and Hurricane planes. The centre covers 2,000m2 and is set across two levels, including a metal-deck upper floor in the exhibition hall.
Besides the main exhibition hall, there is also a 100-seat auditorium and lecture hall, a café and gift shop, reception area, toilets, and a workspace for schools, corporate events and functions. The exterior aluminium rain-screen cladding is painted black to create an impressive volume against the wooded site. This successfully diffuses the reflected light during the day. In May 2018, the centre won the title of Best Public Service Building in the LABC Building Excellence Awards for the London regionals, and also qualified for the national finals.