Jodrell Bank Observatory Building, Discovery Centre Project, Centre for Astrophysics England

Jodrell Bank Observatory, England : Discovery Centre

Discovery Centre Jodrell Bank Observatory design by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, UK

17 May 2011

Discovery Centre – Jodrell Bank Observatory

Design: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS)

FCBS have recently completed the new Discovery Centre for the famous Jodrell Bank Observatory


Photography © Hufton & Crow

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios have recently completed the new Discovery Centre for the famous Jodrell Bank Observatory.

Designed for the University of Manchester’s Centre for Astrophysics the projects include two new Visitor and Exhibition Pavilions which have been built to inspire budding young scientists and showcase cutting-edge research ‘as it happens’. Located directly adjacent to the Grade I listed Lovell Telescope the design of the buildings is inspired by this historic landmark and its setting in the surrounding landscape.

Jodrell Bank Observatory Building Discovery Centre Jodrell Bank Observatory Building Discovery Centre Jodrell Bank Observatory Building Discovery Centre Jodrell Bank Observatory Building Discovery Centre
images © Hufton & Crow

The project forms phase one of a wider redevelopment of the visitor facilities, has a total floor space of 1,000 square metres, and compromises of:

• A Planet Pavilion entrance building including an orientation centre and stylish glass-walled café with spectacular views of the Lovell Telescope. The building features an embossed artwork across the 55 metre long front elevation representing our galaxy as captured by the Lovell Radio Telescope.

• A Space Pavilion incorporating a multi-purpose event space and education pod as part of an interactive ‘Live Science’ exhibition space. The building opens out onto a large terrace giving visitors the opportunity to get up close to the Lovell Telescope to see and hear it work while it turns and rotates during the observations.

• New landscaping to guide visitors towards the telescope and improved visitor footpaths in the Arboretum. The landscape works also include a ‘Galaxy Maze’ landscape installation within the Arboretum, designed by garden designer and TV presenter Chris Beardshaw.

Architects view by Oliver Kampshoff

“Working on the new Discovery Centre at the Jodrell Bank Observatory is a great opportunity for us. The Mark I Lovell Telescope is such an inspirational piece of engineering and has a great sculptural quality to it, it feels so out of place yet it has become such an important landmark.

The scale of it is really interesting too as it seems to change, depending on how far away from it you are. The most amazing experience is when you can get up close to it and the telescope starts to move effortlessly which is something you wouldn’t expect from an object this size.

The design for two new visitor pavilions is inspired by the telescope but we wanted to set the buildings more into the landscape and provide a chary backdrop for the visitor experience which predominantly focuses on the Lovell Telescope, the landscape in the adjacent arboretum and the live-science exhibition. We chose a steel construction for the buildings and a metal faced façade cladding to pick up on the telescope’s structure but also aimed for a very planar and simple façade to contrast against the Lovell Telescope’s intricate and complex frame design.

A big challenge for the project was the quick timeframe and the relatively low budget. We shared our client’s aspiration to create a modern, up-to-date and relevant exhibition centre but couldn’t afford much more than a basic steel shed. In order to balance the gap between ambition and funding available we tried to carefully offset the rudimental construction and materials with finer detail elements to create a robust yet refined appearance.

We believe the result turned out right in the end and we think especially the front elevation of the arrivals building with the 55 meter long radio sky image embossed into the composite panel façade is a good example of how simple and relatively cost effective construction elements can still create a capturing and unusual design.”

Jodrell Bank Observatory Building Discovery Centre Jodrell Bank Observatory Building Discovery Centre Jodrell Bank Observatory Building Discovery Centre Jodrell Bank Observatory Building Discovery Centre
images © Hufton & Crow

Jodrell Bank Observatory Discovery Centre – Building Information

Client: University of Manchester
Masterplan value: £2.8 million
Completion date: Apr 2011
Start on site: Sep 2010
Architect: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Project Manager: Capita Symonds
Quantity Surveyor: Capita Symonds
Structural Engineer: Capita Symonds
M&E Engineer: RPS Gregory
Landscape Architect: Grant Associates
Exhibition Designer: Thomas Matthews
Arboriculturist: Cheshire Woodlands
BREEAM Assessor: Capita Symonds
Acoustic Consultant: Capita Symonds
Main Contractor: John Turner & Sons

Photography © Hufton & Crow

Jodrell Bank Observatory – Discovery Centre building images / information from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects, England

30 Aug 2016
SKA Global Headquarters at Jodrell Bank
Design: Hassell, architects
SKA Global Headquarters, Jodrell Bank
image from architects
SKA Global Headquarters Building at Jodrell Bank

Location: Jodrell Bank Observatory, England, UK

Jodrell Bank Observatory England

Jodrell is the site of the global design headquarters of the world’s next-generation radio telescope, the € 1.5 billion Square Kilometre Array, due to become operational in 2024. The telescope is named after the Sir Bernard Lovell, an English physicist and radio astronomer who was the first director of Jodrell The design for the façade of the Planet Pavilion is of the 408 MHz Map (radio map of the Universe created by radio astronomers 17 years ago) The Discovery Centre aims to attract 120,000 visitors compared to last years 80,000.

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Comments / photos for the Jodrell Bank Observatory – Discovery Centre page welcome

Website: Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre