The Lookout in Lepe Country Park, Southampton

The Lookout in Lepe Country Park, Southampton Nature Reserve Building, English Architecture, Images

The Lookout in Lepe Country Park, Southampton

Visitors Experience in Hampshire, Southern England – design by Hampshire County Council Property Services

14 Jan 2019

The Lookout

Design: Hampshire County Council Property Services

Location: Lepe Country Park, Exbury, Southampton, Hampshire

The Lookout

Hampshire County Council Property Services brings a new visitor experience to Lepe Country Park
In the summer of 2018, Hampshire County Council’s Property Services completed ‘The Lookout,’ at Lepe Country Park.

Lepe Visitor Centre

The project, which provides a restaurant, visitor information point, staff offices and supporting facilities forms part of an ongoing programme of work that seeks to transform and regenerate a number of country parks within Hampshire.

Lepe Visitor Centre

Rich in heritage and protected by numerous geological and ecological designations it is a stunning site perfectly located to tell the fascinating story of the Solent from its post glacial origins to the embarkation of troops for D-Day. It is one of the few points within the New Forest National Park where there is easy public access to the coastline.

Lepe Visitor Centre

Lepe Visitor Centre

The beachside café and visitor facility that it replaced had become dated and with rising sea levels increasingly vulnerable to damage from storm and tidal surges. Early proposals emerged from extensive consultation between Hampshire County Council and the New Forest National Park. Conceptually the building is made up of two elements. A simple box at the rear which serves a more open public volume to the front.

Lepe Visitor Centre

Lepe Visitor Centre

Over this volume is a fine pitched roof which provides the necessary shade and protection from the elements. A glazed frontage and clerestory connects the visitor to the sea and surrounding landscape but most importantly the ‘The Lookout’ is elevated some 2.5 metres above the beach and extreme high water level predicted in about 100 years’ time.  The design responds to Lepe’s unique context and coastline location.

Lepe Visitor Centre

This approach takes inspiration from ‘The Sea Ranch’ by MLTW and Yoshimura’s summer house in Japan. Scharoun’s Schminke Haus and Mollino’s ski-lift were also referenced in precedent studies. The loosening of the straight line geometry of the external terraces respond to the more natural wavy edge to the sea and provided elegant, nautically styled, platforms to which the design team could land stairs and a timber boardwalks.

Lepe Visitor Centre Lepe Visitor Centre

Architect’s view Martin Hallum, Design Manager, said, “Although small and relatively simple, this project has been one of the most challenging and rewarding for all those involved. Restricted to a narrow margin of land ownership at beach level alongside the original café, its location tested both planning policy and the technical expertise of the designers and engineers. From the outset it was important that the building had composure in an environment that can be both beautiful and brutal.”

Lepe Visitor Centre Lepe Visitor Centre

Designed and managed by Hampshire County Council the project provides an essential recreational space attracting some 450,000 visitors per year. Its diverse habitat and wide open spaces are a great draw and The Lookout provides an all year round refuge where you feel part of an ever changing environment. Since it’s opening, The Lookout has received high praise and a 50% increase in visitors.

Lepe Visitor Centre Lepe Visitor Centre

The Lookout, Lepe Country Park – Building Information

Location: Lepe Country Park, Exbury, Southampton, Hampshire
Client: Hampshire County Council (HCC) Countryside Service
Project Team: Hampshire County Council
Project Manager: Hampshire County Council Property Services
Size: 355 sqm
Budget: £3M including fees.
Completed: July 2018
Architect: Hampshire County Council Property Services
Structural engineer: Hampshire County Council Property Services
Civil engineer: Hampshire County Council Property Services
M&E engineer: Hampshire County Council Property Services
Interior design: Hampshire County Council Property Services
Landscape architect: Hampshire County Council Property Services
Cost management: Hampshire County Council Property Services
Main contractor: W Stirland Ltd.

Lepe Visitor Centre

Photography: Jim Stephenson

The Lookout in Lepe Country Park, Southampton images / information received 140119

Location: Lepe Country Park, Exbury, Southampton, Hampshire, England, UK ‘




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