The new headquarters for the Cairngorms National Park Authority has become the organisation’s public face. Collaborating closely with the Highland Council through an extensive public planning process, the architects have created a progressive design in a conservation area that ambitiously rethinks how the CNPA operates and interacts with its public. The new building serves to raise the profile of the CNPA while offering an environment designed to promote collaborative working practices and welcome visitors. It responds to its context with a structure of exposed cross laminated timber (CLT) clad in natural European Larch, which will weather over time, alongside pleated zinc and frameless glazing. Located in the centre of town, it occupies a site adjacent to Grantown-on-Spey’s main public space. Yet, the new building maintains a low profile, avoiding competition with the historic building to which it is linked.
The new timber-clad ‘L’ shape building connects to the existing stone building with a shallow indent on the street edge to allow for a relaxed public entrance and a safe location for parking & access. At its northern extremity, the building comprises two storeys with a dual height contra-monopitch roof. The lower volume that defines the new entrance courtyard connects into the two storey volume with a glazed corner portal. The new wing houses a mix of formal and informal meeting spaces and breakout areas – all of which can be readily reconfigured by way of moveable timber-clad screens.
The structure is formed from Cross Laminated Timber, machined to a coordinated BIM model. The use of sustainably certified mass timber is left exposed internally, removing the need for wall coverings and allowing the structure to be readable throughout. CLT was crucial in achieving contrasting areas of solid and void, moveable screens and adaptable breakout space. A carbon assessment has shown a reduction in emissions versus a reinforced concrete frame, to the sum of 166 t CO2eq, which will offset the operational carbon emissions of the building for a period of 47 years.
Externally, the building is wrapped in locally sourced untreated European Larch cladding.
Adopting a sustainable approach, Moxon’s design addresses the requirements of the brief while looking ahead to future spatial needs to extend the function of the building beyond the typical lifecycle. Layout and orientation is organised to benefit from solar gain, while high levels of insulation and energy efficient windows minimise energy consumption. A range of sustainably sourced materials, wildlife boxes and an intensively planted roof are incorporated seamlessly into the design, ensuring that the special ecology of the site is enhanced by the new building. The building achieves EPC rating A and annual CO² emissions of 8.3kg/m².
Highly Commended – RIAS / Best Use of Wood Award 2019
Images: Simon Kennedy Photography