Ham Hill Visitor Centre

Inspired by the rich Iron Age history of the wider site, the design of the new visitor and learning centre is circular in form. It hovers over the landscape to touch lightly the ancient monument in which it sits. The scheme seeks to celebrate the prominence of the site, reflecting on its heritage and its location to create a new sustainably focused centre which can ensure the future of the park and promote accessibility for all.

‘Uncovering Ham Hill’s past for its future’

The centre is part of South Somerset’s masterplan for the country park which aims to secure a sustainable future for the scheduled ancient monument. Having secured unanimous support for the proposal and heritage lottery funding the project has moved into construction.

Project & Environmental Data

Project Info

  • Location: Ham Hill Country Park, South Somerset
  • Cost: £1.1
  • Designation: Scheduled Ancient Monument, SSSI
  • Image Credit: Ineffable Tale Studio

For visiting information check out the Friends of Ham Hill

Environmental Data

  • Energy Efficiency
    1 2 3 4 5 6
  • Insulation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Thermal Mass
    1 2 3 4 5
  • Airtightness
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Solar PV
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Heating/Hot Water
    Electric Gas Ground Source Air Source
  • Solar Thermal
    Yes No
  • Rain Water Harvest
    Yes No
  • Ventilation
    MVHR Natural
  • Energy Storage
    Yes No

“Architecture is essentially an extension
of nature into the man-made realm,
providing the ground for perception
and the horizon of experiencing and
understanding the world.”
- Juhani Pallasmaa -

As a well-used and beloved country park the scheduled ancient monument is in need of facilities. Creating a visitor and learning centre at Ham Hill Country Park was pivotal for Somerset Council in their desire to 'uncover Ham Hill's past for its future'. A space to help support and maintain a sustainable future for the park for generations to come.

The centre is the key driver behind a wider master plan of landscape interventions and way-finding. The building will provide a much-needed welcome and information point, for visitors to the country park, alongside an enhanced offering to the staff and volunteer team. At present the landscape is not accessible for all and providing learning accommodations both internal and external. A crafted screen divides the second exhibition space into a smaller space for education groups to gather and a range of activities to support learning.

Exhibition space at the new visitor and learning centre Ham Hill

The materiality of the scheme has a minimal and unobtrusive palette, primarily drawing on natural and local timber both inside and outside. This muted palette allows flexibility for the exhibition with the artefacts drawing the focus and being celebrated. The centre supports a 'Changing Places' unit which are in great need and rarely accommodated. By ensuring the accessibility of the area the vision is it will preserve the park for future generations along with its heritage and rare biodiversity.

Touching the ground lightly was required at Ham Hill not just for our environmental conscience but also to limit the impact on the historical parkland and rare landscape. A no-dig requirement meant that the scheme would be utilising a pile foundation approach and setting the centre above the landscape with sweeping ramps to ensure continued inclusive accessibility. Our approach to architecture is holistic whether it is a bespoke one-off house or a commercial building for public use. It is a fabric-first approach which is then supported by technology to ensure it is environmentally conscious and reduces our impact on the planet.

We question revealing narratives, weaving the story of the site and the client into the architecture. Thorough research into the heritage of Ham Hill and Iron Age settlements drove the circular approach reflective of the roundhouses used in the historic settlements.

It is our belief that quality architecture adds value, both emotional and financial. Our architecture enhances your sense of well-being, the value of which is difficult to quantify in monetary terms. Our design skill, knowledge and tenacity also add financial value as the benefit of realising quality design increases the value of a site and maximises your investment.