A glazing system from architectural aluminium specialist, Technal, was chosen for Hafod Eryri – the acclaimed new visitor’s centre on the summit of Snowdon, and the highest building in Wales and England.
Designed by Ray Hole Architects and constructed by Carillion, this unique building occupies one of the most extreme sites in the world – 1,065m above sea level, subject to wind speeds of more than 150mph and twice hurricane force, over 5m of rain each year and temperatures of -20°C.
The new £8.3m centre for the Snowdonia National Park Authority provides a café, visitors’ facilities and railway terminus. It occupies the same footprint as the previous 1930s building, and has been designed to blend seamlessly into its spectacular setting, and to minimise any environmental impact.
Large picture windows from Technal’s FXi65 casement suite were set into deep reveals in the cladding on the west elevation. This ‘wall of windows’ maximises the magnificent views from the summit.
The 2.5m high x 2m wide fixed light windows were angled to reduce glare in the valley below and to provide a degree of solar shading to reduce heat gain inside.
Commenting on the glazing specification, Garry Reynolds, Director of Ray Hole Architects, said, “The full height windows allow us to bring light deep into the centre, and for the first time in the summit building’s history, we can do justice to the breathtaking views.”
“Our requirement was for the slimmest frame and the largest glazed area possible to allow visitors to take in the summit views. The size and weight of the glass also had to be feasible for future replacement given the project’s location and restricted access.”
“The Technal system is inherently robust and more than capable of performing successfully over time in this exposed and harsh environment.”
Lines of poetry by Gwyn Thomas, the former National Poet of Wales, feature on the glass, and the window profiles were finished in low maintenance anodised aluminium as part of the architect’s selection of natural materials for the scheme.
Some smaller FXi windows from Technal were also used on the west elevation, to provide natural ventilation.
All the construction materials, including the prefabricated steel structure, had to be transported to the mountain summit by train. Both smooth and rough-cut granite stone was used for the external envelope – the curved walls, roof and floors, and strips of Welsh oak line the interior walls to mirror the stonework.
The building has also achieved a BREEAM ‘very good’ rating – a significant achievement given the project’s mountain location.
Over 300,000 people visit Hafod Eryri in the summer months and visitor numbers have already exceeded expectations.
Images © Ray Hole Architects
Client: Snowdonia National Park Authority
Architects: Ray Hole Architects
Main contractor: Carillion
Project manager/QS: Jacobs Babtie
Structural engineer/M&E: Arup
Aluminium window system: Technal
Project Name: Hafod Eryri
Project Location: Snowdon
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