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Telling the story of stone

The Institute of Quarrying (IQ) and National Stone Centre (NSC) have merged. Together we will work to inspire people to engage with the origin, the industry and the history of stone.

Officially opened in 1990, the NSC is set within six former limestone quarries on a 40-acre Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Our vision is to create a world-class visitor experience and an internationally significant centre of excellence for the quarrying and mineral products industry.

We are excited to present the first visualisation of how this vision will materialise in the architect drawings below. 

Design Approach

A key objective in the design approach for the new building is to consider it as a 3-dimensional sculptural element embedded within the landscape. Our approach aims to minimise its visual impact on the landscape, particularly when viewed from the elevated position of the High Peak Trail.

Another objective in the design is to take advantage of key views from within the building through carefully considered openings into areas of varying characteristics e.g. open valley to the south, reef to the east, woodland and quarry to the west.

Design Concept

The new building is conceived as two 2 -storey blocks jutting out from the edge of the plateau on the south side of the existing Centre, bearing reference to crystalline rock formations. The two blocks would be set into the bank and project into the landscape at an angle of 45 degrees from each other and embrace the surrounding landscape.

By positioning the building on the edge of the plateau, the change of level can be used to create a lower ground floor as part of the proposed 2-storey structure. The steep gradient of the slope below would result in the lower ground level projecting and floating above the external ground at the ends of the blocks. An undercroft space could contain further exhibition space as well as providing an anchor point at the ends of the blocks.

The use of the sloping site will help embed the building into the landscape and minimise the building’s visual impact particularly when viewed from the north side and the High Peak Trail. The building at plateau level would be single storey and the entrance would be at Upper Ground Level. By locating the new building on the edge of the plateau, the existing Centre would be able to remain operable throughout the construction period.

When the construction of the new Centre is complete, the existing building will be carefully deconstructed and a landscaped public space (piazza) formed in its place. The piazza will form a central hub from which further future building ‘spokes’ would radiate partly into the wooded area to the west and north-west. One of the spokes could involve the re-use of the steel portal frame of the existing Centre to form a library building.

Building Layout

The main entrance is at the upper ground floor level in the triangular central segment between the two wings, with direct access from the piazza. The entrance leads past the shop into a central foyer leading to the main spaces on either side. The location of the stairs, lift and wcs in the central section also enables flexible use of the building by closing sections off as required by use.

The Café occupies the Upper Ground floor level of the eastern wing and can be accessed directly from the entrance foyer or from the terrace on the east side of the café. This terrace is designed to take advantage of views south-east towards the ‘reef’. There is a further terrace proposed at the southern end of the café which will have commanding views towards the Ecclesbourne Valley.

From the main entrance, the shop will also be sited to manage visitors to the exhibition. On the other side of the foyer in the western wing, will be a multi-purpose hall which is a double height space with retractable seating for 200 people when in lecture/theatre mode.

The Exhibition area comprises the whole of the Lower Ground floor and undercroft space of the eastern wing, accessed via the main staircase and lift in the centre of the building.

On the other side of the Lower Ground level foyer is the multi-purpose hall which will incorporate a bank of 200 retractable theatre style seats when it is in lecture/performance mode. These can be slid back into a pocket at the rear of the hall to create a clear space for classroom or other uses. A furniture store to the rear of the hall will allow desks and chairs to be stored when a clear space is required. The rear of the furniture store will be below the level of the external sloping ground and is envisaged as an area for plant.

External Appearance

The concept for the contemporary scheme is influenced by rock formations and the desire to ground the building into its setting through use of stone and stone-based products as a building material.

The aspiration to achieve a Net Zero Carbon building (embodied and in use) will rely on use of locally based products and this will also help the building blend into the surrounding landscape.

What do you think?

We would like to hear what you think of the plans, so please tell us using this form.

Also contact us if you have ideas or want to get involved in the National Stone Centre project.

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