Yorkshire Sculpture Park
In Brief

Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Construction value:

We have been architects to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park since 1988. The former Bretton Hall estate has been transformed into an internationally significant park which welcomes 700,000 non-paying visitors every year. We began with a gallery for sculpture and two-dimensional art to a very limited budget and timetable.

Subsequently, we designed an indoor gallery by converting a series of 18th-century outbuildings flanking a curved garden wall and more recently have completed the £4 million Visitor Centre. In total we have created a series of three exhibition spaces including the innovative Underground Gallery, completed in 2006. At 600sqm, this is one of the largest purpose-built gallery spaces in Britain.

Design Approach
The Underground Gallery forms a continuation of the linear concourse of the Visitor Centre and the two are linked via a stone staircase.

Discreetly tucked away under the sloping lawns of the beautiful Bothy Garden, the Underground Gallery’s rooflight was refined through conversations with Anish Kapoor, who likened it to a stream running through the grass roof, reflecting the sky above.

Alterations to topography now provide an additional outdoor exhibition space, complete with yew hedge backdrop, outside the Underground Gallery. 

Narrow Module Image

The lack of a ‘permanent collection’ around which to design the spaces meant that the galleries inevitably needed to remain flexible and somewhat passive in their character in order to accommodate a wide variety of work.

However, the key strength of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is its wonderful landscape and the way in which this interacts with the pieces on display. It was therefore essential that the Underground Gallery maintain this contact with the landscape and create a distinct character of its own.  

Narrow Module Image
Quote Image
"Those who knew the place in its former incarnation must feel that the spirit of the newly created place is strong, unobtrusive calm and appropriate."
Architecture 06, guide to the RIBA Awards
Quote Image

Our brief was primarily to provide large indoor gallery spaces to complement the existing outdoor facilities - dramatically increasing the possibilities for staging exhibitions, and making the Yorkshire Sculpture Park one of the UK’s most significant venues for temporary sculpture exhibitions.

At the same time, in the case of the Underground Gallery, the challenge was to introduce a very large volume of new construction into the much-loved 19th century Bothy Garden. It was essential we achieve this without destroying the important historic character and integrity of the space.

Narrow Module Image

This was an essential part of the brief, allowing YSP to exhibit sensitive materials. All the galleries and the seminar room in the Visitor Centre enjoy high levels of daylight to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

The fabric of the buildings allows the galleries to operate under passive natural ventilation. Automatic louvres allow ventilation at night to disperse heat built up during the day, allowing the structure to cool.

Narrow Module Image
Quote Image
"So simple that it [the Underground Gallery] is almost invisible. It complements the previous phases of development with an understated design that is the embodiment of elegance...
...It is 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

2006 Civic Trust Award

2006 RIBA Award

2006 RIBA White Rose Award for Best Building in Yorkshire

2003 RIBA Award

2003 RIBA White Rose Award for Best Building in Yorkshire

Narrow Module Image

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

Narrow Module Image
Explore more Arts & Culture projects:
Explore more Leisure projects:
Explore more Masterplanning & Placemaking projects: