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The Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award


Commissioning authority: Forestry Commission
Principal designer: White Design
Principal contractor: Miller Construction

Dalby Forest is the largest forest in Yorkshire. Its striking new visitor centre not only provides an outstanding gateway to the forest but is also one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the UK.

Sustainability was at the heart of the Forestry Commission’s design brief from day one. As part of a wider £4.3 million regeneration of the forest’s facilities, the client wanted this £2.1 million building not just to be constructed using all the available sustainable thinking and technology, but also to be a visible sustainable icon for the 250,000 visitors to the forest each year. The result is a building that ‘touches the ground lightly’.

The visitor centre uses timber from the surrounding forest, and throughout construction the contractor went to great lengths to source materials locally, as well as making inspirational use of recycled waste plastic materials.

The dramatic naturally-ventilated central atrium is not just a great space for visitors but is also the heart of the building’s cooling system, using the stack effect to draw cool air through it.

The thermally efficient structure uses pre-insulated timber panels to create a ‘super-insulated’ envelope to reduce heat loss. A range of renewable energy technologies is also incorporated in the design.

The centre is a great venue to teach sustainability to visitors, but is also a first-class example of a single cohesive team combining to deliver way beyond expectations.


The Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre, London EC1
Kaleidoscope, London SE6
National Cold War Exhibition, RAF Cosford
Darlington Education Village
The Bridge Arts Centre, Glasgow
Oldham Library + Lifelong Learning Centre
Dunheved Bridge, A30, Launceston

The award

For buildings and infrastructure projects of any size commissioned by or on behalf of central or local government or by a grant-aided organisation. Sponsored by CABE and the Office of Government Commerce.

Cleveleys Coast Protection Phase 2
Lower Witham Flood Defence Scheme, Lincoln
M60 Widening Junction 5-8, Warrington
King’s Cross St Pancras Underground Station
Dalby Forest Visitor Centre, Yorkshire
The Rooftop Nursery, London E5
Paradise Park Children’s Centre, London N7
Keadby to Amcotts Bank Stabilisation Scheme
Victoria Footbridge, Hereford
Tilford Bridges, Surrey
Promenade of Light, London EC1

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