White Cliffs Visitor Centre, 1999

Langdon Cliffs

Designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects

van Heyningen and Haward Architects: The design for the National Trust’s visitor facilities in this area of Outstanding Natural Beauty blends with its surroundings. Its low wooden structure, with grass roof, is designed to be highly energy efficient. Chris Wilderspin the project architect described the building as “looking as though it has grown out of the existing landscape’

COMMISSIONER The National Trust

OWNER The National Trust

MORE INFO The National Trust

PHOTOGRAPHS Nigel Green

Charles Holland: “van Heyningen and Haward have designed a number of visitor centres and this is one of their most successful. It is a deliberately modest building which sits on the cliffs overlooking Dover harbour. Its shallow vaulted roof is topped with grass so that the building merges into the landscape when seen from higher up. At ground level it explores a tectonic marriage of high-tech detailing and arts and crafts materials: welded steel elements resting on rustic brick piers.

The building has a simple plan with an unsympathetically complicated shop interior that gets in the way of the view. This though is spectacular: horses chewing grass in the foreground, the steep drop of the cliffs and then the endlessly busy and breathtakingly vast port beyond.”