The Lookout
In Brief

The Holkham Estate

Location: Norfolk

Cost: £1,325,000

Completed: October 2018

Best known for its magnificent panoramic beach and the rich and varied wildlife found on the grazing land and salt marshes, the landscape of the Holkham Reserve in Norfolk is just one layer of a man-made landscape that has changed dramatically over time and which will continue to change in response to environmental and social influences. Protected by AONB, SSSI and NNR designations the landscape is predominantly the result of one family’s sustainable management over the generations.

The Lookout was conceived out of a need to control the impact of visitors on the National Nature Reserve, to educate people about the effect of their visit on the Reserve, inform visitors about the diverse, rare and protected wildlife and to provide much-needed visitor facilities.

The setting inspired the choice of the building’s form and materiality. The circular form is pleasing from every prospect and, as a lookout, it provides panoramic views of the wildlife and infinite horizons beyond. The slatted larch elevation disguises human activity preventing disturbance to adjacent nesting birds. Swales were dug around the building to encourage the salt marsh habitat. The resulting earth was used to bury flood defences further embedding the building in its landscape. 

The central courtyard captures a glimpse of ‘big sky’ and, like a clearing in the woods, creates a natural place to gather. At its centre, a fountain sculpted by local blacksmiths provides water on different levels for all to enjoy for free.

Sustainable Management

The Holkham National Nature Reserve was designated in 1967 and covers 3706 ha from Wells-next-the-Sea to Burnham Overy. Comprising of a number of rare habitats including salt marsh, sand dunes, pine woodland, foreshore, beach and grazing marsh, the present landscape was reclaimed from the sea in the late 19th century by the 2nd Earl of Leicester who planted three miles of sand with Corsican pine trees to stabilise the dunes and hold back the sea.

This work continues to the present day, as water levels within the grazing marsh are managed to maintain optimal conditions for wildlife.

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2019: RIBA Award East Regional - Winner

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"The Lookout is beautiful, sustainable and worthy of its sublime setting."
Celia Deeley, Holkham Estate
"The concept and developed design by Feilden Clegg Bradley for the Lookout was very strong. An understated, simple visitor centre, this is a very successful addition to the Holkham experience."
RIBA Regional Awards, Judges Citation

Design Architects: 
Delivery Architects: 
Lucas + Western Architects
Structural Engineer: 
Integral Engineering Design
Quantity Surveyors and CDM Coordinator: 
MAC Cost Consulting Ltd
Transportation Consultant: 
Ian J M Cable Architectural Design
M&E Engineers: 
E3 Consulting Engineers
Ecology & Landscape Consultant: 
Catherine Bickmore Associates
Geotechnical Engineers & Flood Risk Assessors: 
Plandescil Ltd
Arboricultural Services: 
A T Coombes Associates

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