Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire will turn over a new leaf this summer with the completion of the first phase of its exciting redevelopment project.
This June, the new Welcome Building will open, creating an inspiring gateway to this wonderful garden landscape and world class collection of trees, which is cared for by the Forestry Commission. The position of the new building will allow visitors to enter the arboretum through a choice of gateways and follow the original picturesque routes which Victorian creator Robert Holford laid out.
The Welcome Building, partly funded by Biffa Award, is part of the £4.3 million first phase of the Westonbirt Project which also includes a new car park and extensive work to restore the Grade I historic landscape.
Based in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, the arboretum is a Grade I registered landscape that is home to an internationally renowned tree collection and heritage area. The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, marked the occasion by propagating a (Stewartia sinensis) tree sapling and officially declared the new building open.
The new single-storey facility acts as the gateway to the arboretum and is a modest but warm timber-framed building. The building is curved in plan and draws in visitors from several directions and distributes them out into the wider landscape. True to the ethos of the Forestry Commission, the building, acclaimed for its sustainable design, has been constructed from UK-grown Douglas fir and western red cedar timber, with its floor constructed in pennant stone from the Forest of Dean.
The opening also marks the launch of the second phase of Westonbirt’s plans for a new Treetop Walkway built to transport visitors up into the tree canopy, giving them a different perspective on the collection. From this elevated viewpoint they will be able to see the trees close up, view wildlife habitats and look out over the wider landscape. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum launched a £1.9m fundraising campaign at the opening, with only £600k left to raise.