FE McWilliam

The FE McWilliams Centre is a purpose built Gallery and Studio to house the internationally significant collection bequeathed by the artist to his hometown. The scheme involved converting the existing Tourist Information Office and caravan site into a Gallery, Event Space, Café and dedicated enclosed garden to provide a setting for art work and the restored Artist’s Studio building. Park Hood were part of full Design Team including Architect, Civil & Structural Engineering, M&E, Quantity Surveyor and CDM-C. The landscape design requirement of the scheme included creating an appropriate, high quality setting and entrance for the main building and the dedicated ‘Outdoor Gallery’ garden to house a range of sculptural pieces. This garden has a strong connection with the gallery building both visually and functionally whilst creating secluded external exhibition rooms to allow visitors to study the sculptures on display. The design concept centres on the creation of a series of outdoor galleries that are visually separate in order to house a variety of sculpture types yet are linked together by a simple palette of paving materials and shrub species. All material is suitable for public access locations and provides full compliance with DDA requirements. The planting species provide a year round interest without imposing a high maintenance burden. Park Hood worked closely with the project architects on the layout of the external areas, in particular the linkage between the building and the Artist’s Studio set within the gardens. This is achieved using a feature pergola which acts as a visual connection and gives a vertical scale to the garden. Another important collaboration within the Design Team was with the M&E consultant to design a lighting scheme that enhanced the external spaces. Highlighted the sculptural pieces and created a facility that could be enjoyed year round and both during the day and at night when the Gallery is open for evening events.