Hampshire County Council was both client and designer for its new visitor centre overlooking the Isle of Wight
The council’s Property Services arm has completed The Lookout at Lepe Country Park, on the edge of New Forest National Park. The visitor centre provides an essential recreational space – with restaurant, information point, offices and supporting facilities – and aims to attract up to 450,000 people a year.
Located at one of the few points within the New Forest National Park where there is easy public access to the coastline, the existing café and visitor facility had become dated. The new design incorporates a shallow pitched roof providing necessary shading, while a glazed frontage and clerestory provides a link to the sea, with views to the surrounding landscape. The building is elevated 2.5m above the beach to reduce its vulnerability to high water levels and tidal surges.
Inspired by MLTW’s Condominium 1 at the Sea Ranch in California and Junzo Yoshimura’s summer house in Japan, the scheme provides a series of timber boardwalks and straight geometries, responding to the coastline. The scheme is part of an ongoing programme of work seeking to transform and regenerate a number of country parks within Hampshire.