The Silverstone Experience is a state of the art, world-class visitor attraction that will bring the extensive heritage of Silverstone and British motor racing in the UK to life, through the creation of an interactive and educational visitor experience.
The facilities include:
- 4000 sqm of dynamic exhibition and interactive areas;
- The BRDC collection and library;
- An archive facility, in line with museum standards, to provide storage of the artefacts for Silverstone Circuit; and
- An education programme for pupils to learn and develop STEM activities and look at future careers within the motor sport industry.
The Silverstone Experience is a winning entry for this award as it restored and rescued one of two remaining T7 World War II hangars, which exist in the UK. The hangar was constructed during WWII to accommodate the Wellington Bombers that flew from Silverstone. The hangars were constructed on a temporary basis to house the bombers during WWII. This hangar has since provided a space for car storage, a karting centre, an indoor activity centre and more recently, to house the most iconic motorcars, prior to their racing on international circuits.
The hangar has a very interesting lattice beam construction, with pin-joint connections at the slab level. The conservation of this structure was primary to the development of the scheme, as well as to the ethos and objectives of the Silverstone Experience.
The hangar provides the most appropriate enclosure for a heritage facility. Visitors are able to be transported into the WWII environment within the existing hangar facility.
The retention of this hangar was not without its challenges: the structural calculations, foundations and slab construction were all designed for a temporary building for the Wellington Bombers and crew, prior to embarking on manoeuvres. It would have been far easier for the structure to be dismantled for repair and relocated; however, the true integrity of the WWII hangar was retained in place to achieve the final solution.
Whilst the hangar is not listed or located within a conservation area, the team have treated the existing structure, with the care and attention, appropriate to its history and heritage, bearing in mind its location and events that have taken place of the years.
The building is iconic and located at the entrance to a national leisure facility: the Silverstone Circuit, it is a landmark building, providing the statement and evolution of the next chapter for the Circuit itself.
The new build extension had to be sympathetically considered to respect the hangar construction and has been designed with the highest specification to achieve the archive-controlled environment, education facilities, café, staff and support areas. It also provides the home record collection.
This building is evidence of how careful teamwork and an interest in historic buildings can retain and preserve a facility, for the wider population to enjoy. The team were honest throughout the design proposals and retained the building on site, extending beyond the ‘normal’ structural calculation guidelines to ensure that this building could be retained for the future.
The effort presented by the team to achieve the delivery of this building, should be evidence to the industry that it is possible to retain existing structures, to utilise them to their full potential, and to ensure that historic buildings can meet current British Standards, construction standards and be refurbished and reutilised.
- The restoration of a heritage building (only one of two which remain within the UK).
- The collaboration and careful design intent by the design team to establish a building that could be delivered, whilst retaining the frame in-situ, rather than removing from site.
- This is more than just a building – it is a heritage statement.