For the first time in 150 years, visitors to Stowe will be able to view its breathtaking gardens the way they were originally intended after a £9 million project to restore its gateway, the New Inn.
The National Trust owned property was previously left in a derelict state and the old Georgian Bell Gate the original entrance to the grounds unable to be used. In 2010 the restoration began and now two years on the grade II listed building is fully restored to its original condition, with a new visitor centre facility providing a route to the gardens via the old Bell Gate, reinstating it as the original entrance.
Designed to meet modern day visitors needs, the visitor centre incorporates a restaurant and shop housed within a contemporary re-interpretation of the traditional timber framed barn that once stood on the site. Numerous Reynaers aluminium systems are used throughout, to both secure and complement the structure, which uses an innovative diagrid roof, with the walls left almost entirely glazed to expose views of the grounds.
Reynaers CW 50 curtain walling was installed which offered unlimited creative freedom and allowed seamless integration of window, roof and facade systems within the construction of the centre. The system provides good ventilation and thermal insulation throughout the visitor centre, whilst allowing the maximum level of light to enter.
With sustainability a focus, high performance, aesthetically pleasing Reynaers Eco System windows were installed, fitting the design of the building perfectly. Offering energy performance which exceeds current requirements Eco System adds to the other sustainable elements of the design, such as the locally sourced timber and the biomass boiler heating system.
The project was led by contractors ISG InteriorExterior Plc, with Cowper Griffith Architects taking care of the architectural work, and Anglian Architectural Limited the fabricator.
The New Inn was originally purposely built in 1717 by Lord Cobham as the entrance for the 250 acre Stowe Gardens. Until The National Trust acquired the grounds in 2005, the building was left to ruin. Now visitors can experience 18th century life through the various rooms and activities within the restored Georgian building.
Restoration work on buildings dating back so far in time always requires a sensitive approach, said Paul Duffy, Reynaers Sales Director.
The New Inn is an integral part of the visitor experience, but Stowes main focus is the 2.5 acres of gardens, so the modernised visitor centre is intended to complement, not stand out from this. The fully glazed facade meets the sustainability requirements of the project, is very energy efficient whilst providing the perfect gateway to the stunning grounds.