Visitors Centre

Moss Architecture . Interiors Ltd - Lead consultant, architectural & interior designers.

Novated under the design and build contractor.

Design & Build Contractor – B&K Building Services

Client - Severn Trent Water

Design Competition

This commission was awarded through winning a design ideas competition for a new visitors centre along with supporting car parking to comprise, shop cafe, fishing lodge and rangers station.

The Visitors centre is set on the bank of Draycote Water Reservoir in the nature park focusing visitor access and on site management providing a leisure destination.

Design Criteria

The Brief - Key Objectives

Site Analysis

The site comprises a 242 hectare, artificially embanked raw water reservoir surrounded by a tarmac road.

The reservoir includes a water treatment works, a sailing club, a fishing lodge, a rangers base and on site residential. Car parking bays are located off the main entrance with separate access to the Country Park car parking.

The reservoir is situated adjacent to Warwickshire County Council’s Country Park on the southern shore, an area designated as a special landscape area.

Draycote Water is surrounded by gently sloping fields that run down to the water’s edge with scree beaches to some of the shore line. The fields rise more steeply to the southern shore up to the country park, to the rear of the sailing club and fishing lodge.

The dam walls located to the Eastern and Western edges are artificially embanked and are faced with stone scree to the reservoir faces which soften their impact on the landscape beyond.

The yacht club boat park adds additional interest to the Southern shore.


Our approach to this brief has been to create a new Visitors Centre, with architecture that is integrated into the surrounding landscape, that will orientate the visitor to a single point on the site.

It draws on the surrounding features and materials, including the embanked stone scree dam walls of the reservoir creating a contemporary signature to the building.

The building section capitalises on the steep fall to the old fishing lodge site, providing a main ground floor, at existing road level, which includes all key visitor facilities, and a part lower ground floor, cut into the fall of the ground, to house the Fishing Lodge, Rangers Station and Storage.

The toilet accommodation is located to enable access from the interior or the exterior of the centre.

The glazed main entrance runs parallel to the road located between sloping battered stone walls, which run the length of the south elevation and return part way at each end. The setback stone wall creates a substantial covered area in front of the entrance enabling all weather access around the exterior of the building.

The entrance is identified by an iconic yacht mast and sail sign that gently blows in the wind, creating an audible ripple and a focal point visible from all over the reservoir.

A standing seam mono pitch roof covers the entire area of the centre supported by exposed glue laminated beams, galvanized steel purlin and timber rafter structure, appearing to float over the centre on continuous ribbon glazing.

A capacious glazed wall overlooks the reservoir, wrapping around the restaurant, exhibition and retail area affording views across the entire reservoir.

Two timber decked terrace are located to each end of the centre, providing additional summer seating to the restaurant and viewing platforms from which to watch the activities on the reservoir.

To each side of the centre, new large-scale slab concrete stairs are provided with a landscaped garden to the approach and a ramped path accessing the reservoir banks for all.

The car parking is positioned directly above the visitors centre and is cut into the slope of the field, with embanked and planted surrounds to minimize its impact on the surrounding country side. To further reduce the visual impact it may be beneficial to use a compacted and bonded stone surface as opposed to tarmac.

Access points are provided directly adjacent to the Visitors Centre entrance, with the entrance of the car park located to provide total separation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Road crossing positions are clearly defined.

Interior Layout

Upon entering the centre via a fully glazed lobby with automatic glass sliding doors, you pass directly into a large open plan reception area with a circular desk and exhibition space leading to the open plan restaurant, entering directly adjacent to the shop.

Feature floor recessed lighting is provided to the entrance approach creating a dramatic effect to the battered stone wall and directing the visitor into the centre.

The open plan spaces are column free affording maximum flexibility to the use of the centre.

The kitchen, toilet accommodation and staff areas are located neatly on the south wall with direct external access to the road.

The Mono pitch exposed roof structure climbs to approximately 3.4m at the glazed wall, overlooking the reservoir. The glazed wall is protected by the roof overhang to reduce thermal gain.

The interior finishes are kept simple and durable with painted hard wall plaster finishes throughout, painted timber door sets and continuous ceramic tiled floors laid over under floor heating embedded within the screed system.

The exposed roof structure of glue laminated timber beams, galvanized steel purlins and timber rafters is left with its natural finishes providing rhythm and scale to the open plan spaces and creating empathy and an organic bond with the landscape and reservoir surrounding the centre.

Environment – Sustainability

The design proposal maximises the use of reclaimed materials and sustainable resource material specification.

Timber, stone and finishes materials are selected from reclaimed or renewable managed resources where possible.

Other features include:-

Natural ventilation

Maximising natural ventilation throughout the centre with opening lights to the ribbon windows and glazed walls.

Heat sink

The thick stone wall and concrete substructure act as a thermal sink taking up heat in the summer and giving it off in the winter reducing artificial heating to the minimum and utilising free night cooling.

Rain Water Collection

The rainwater will be collected via corten steel hoppers from the roof guttering and will be directed for use in the Toilet accommodation and to provide irrigation watering to the planting in summer months.


Lighting to be controlled by timer switch or photo cell operation in cellular office/rooms (or similar)for energy efficiency. Low energy fittings will be selected.

The use of natural lighting is maximised in the design of the scheme by means of the glazed wall construction and key open plan spaces.


Walls, roofs and floors will be insulated to provide the maximum energy efficiency minimising input.


All glazing will be sealed unit construction maximising thermal efficiency. Airtight frame construction details will be specified to minimise building leakage, with full thermal break specification.

Renewable Energy Sources

Split system for naturally generated / conventional supply were investigated for the centre.

Moss Architecture .

Interiors Ltd