níall mclaughlin marks gateway to historic site with ‘auckland tower’

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this timber building and tower designed by níall mclaughlin architects serves as an access point and gateway to ‘the auckland project’, a new visitor destination in the north east of england. located in bishop auckland, a market town in county durham, the site is home to ‘auckland castle’ — one of the most important and best-preserved bishops’ palaces in europe. the building provides ticketing, information, and orientation for the refurbished castle and new faith gallery, while its adjacent tower offers views over the town and landscape beyond.

níall mclaughlin auckland tower
image © nick kane

 

 

reminiscent of a market hall, the timber welcome building houses a shop and a ticket office and is used for a variety of exhibitions and events. níall mclaughlin architects explains that the structure functions as the first port of call for visitors to auckland castle and its various museums and galleries. the structure is open to views in different directions, providing a spatial connection between the castle complex and the town’s market place.

níall mclaughlin auckland tower
image © nick kane

 

 

internally, the building’s walls are engraved in text telling the story of the castle through history, while the ceiling of the hall carries stenciled representations. ‘our intention is that the building is not simply a container for interpretation but participates in the representation of the site through its own features,’ say the architects. elsewhere, adjustable timber shutters have been used to give the structure an open, kinetic quality.

níall mclaughlin auckland tower
image © nick kane

 

 

meanwhile, the form and construction of the neighboring tower is intended to echo the lightweight provisional structures that would once have clustered around castle walls. ‘it allows people to look into the castle and understand the previously secluded world,’ explains níall mclaughlin architects. made from european larch glulam, the timber frame will naturally weather over time — revealing the silver-grey, naturally weathered wood beneath the surface treatment.



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