Intimate in scale, Softroom’s Kielder Belvedere was the first architectural commission to form part of an on-going public arts programme, promoting sustainable tourism in one of the largest forests in Britain.
The award winning design offers shelter for walkers and doubles as a waiting point for the local ferry, providing temporary refuge to some of the estimated 250,000 people who visit the National Park every year. The building takes the form of a truncated triangle, clad entirely in stainless steel, reflecting the forest with a doorway set beneath a richly–coloured glass canopy.
Utilising the vast panoramas of the landscape, the sides of the shelter each reflect a partial image of the forest, screened by the acid etching of their stainless steel panels. The vista across the water is drawn in by the mirror polished convex surface at the front to a curved slot, which in turn frames the panorama of Kielder Water when viewed from the golden top lit drum within.
Local climatic conditions demanded robust, hardwearing materials, which have already exceeded their planned lifespan. The seats are made from a virtually indestructible man-made resin while the screen-like walls are of stainless steel to make the Belvedere less solid in appearance.
“We have never seen anything like this. It is rare to see such a genuinely original piece of architecture. It is a beautiful folly.”