The Underground Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yorkshire Sculpture Park

FCBStudios first began work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1988. Initially appointed to produce a masterplan for the site, a dramatic series of proposals followed which have reunited and restored the historic Bretton estate.

In total we have created a series of three spaces including an initial temporary art pavilion, a Visitor Centre and the innovative Underground Gallery.  

At 600sqm, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of the largest purpose-built gallery spaces for temporary sculpture exhibitions in the UK. The former Bretton Hall estate has been transformed into an internationally significant park that welcomes 350,000 visitors every year. 

Key Information

Sector: Arts & Culture, Masterplanning & Urban Design

Client: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Location: Yorkshire

Completion: Visitor Centre: 2002 / Underground Gallery: 2004

Size: Underground Gallery 600 sqm


Discreetly tucked away under sloping lawns, the Underground Gallery is an elegant, flexible space designed to work with the landscape and accommodate a variety of changing exhibitions. The landscape is sculpted around the gallery, with the slope of the Garden over its roof, a ha-ha and a continuous flat glass rooflight separating the building roof from the remainder of the lawn. This rooflight was refined through conversations with Anish Kapoor who likened it to a stream running through the grass roof, reflecting the sky above.

It was essential that the Underground Gallery complement and maintain contact between the art and the landscape and create a distinct character of its own. The gallery is clad internally in Pennine Sandstone which allows it to take on the feel of an external space and be read in conjunction with the nearby terrace.

Carefully assembled from robust and beautiful materials, responding to its setting so subtly that the work on display in the galleries is quietly enhanced by the architecture.

RIBA Award Judges


The lack of a ‘permanent collection’ around which to design the spaces meant that the galleries needed to remain flexible and passive in character to accommodate a wide variety of work. The galleries can be enclosed by large timber sliding doors, or open and linked to a fully glazed concourse with views out onto the lower terrace.

We used a passive environmental strategy wherever possible. The heavyweight construction combined with the earth sheltering to the roof and rear walls allows very stable temperatures to be maintained in the galleries, without the need for air conditioning. The exception to this is one small gallery to accommodate the exhibition of sensitive materials.

Close consultation with artists and sculptors gained a thorough understanding of their specific requirements of a gallery space and the finished scheme has received critical acclaim from artists including Tony Cragg, Antony Gormley and William Turnbull.

YSP underground gallery and visitor centre


The Visitor Centre is a landmark at the entrance to the park. It is located on a wooded route that acts as a boundary between the formal gardens and parkland. 

The building consists of a linear concourse which provides access to shop and cafeteria, a 120-seat auditorium, meeting rooms, education spaces and toilets. The concourse itself also offers gallery space for sculptures and two-dimensional works, views into the woodland and opportunities for viewing sculpture in nature. The building’s cafeteria on the second floor, emerges from the trees. Its continuous balcony angles out towards the parkland, providing spectacular views down into the valley.

 The building is intended to enhance the landscape, as it extends out into the parkland, to form a new terrace overlooking the Henry Moore sculptures in the park. 


Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Quarmby Construction Company Ltd
Structural Engineer
M&E Engineer
Ernest Griffiths & Son
CDM Consultant
Turner & Townsend
Façade Consultant
Montresor Partnership
Landscape Consultant
Land Use Consultants
Project Manager & Cost Consultant
Burnley Wilson Fish
Peter Cook/View Pictures, Jonty Wilde, Andy Goldsworthy

FCBStudios Team Leads


Civic Trust Award: Visitor Centre and Gallery
RIBA Award: Entrance Building
Civic Trust Award: Visitor Centre and Gallery
RIBA Award: The Underground Gallery
RIBA Yorkshire White Rose Award: The Underground Gallery
RIBA Award: Visitor Centre and Gallery
RIBA Yorkshire White Rose Award: Visitor Centre and Gallery