The contractor has broken ground on the observatory’s First Light Pavilion with completion of the project, commissioned by the University of Manchester, expected in 2021.
The Hassell-designed scheme, for which approval was granted in December 2017, will see the construction of an 8,000 sq ft, grass-covered dome housing a visitors’ centre, exhibition space and a 150-seat auditorium. At its highest point the single-storey dome will reach seven metres.
It is hoped that the addition of the pavilion will provide a boost to visitor numbers which currently stand at 150,000 per year.
As part of the project, which has received £12m in funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a further £4m from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, other buildings at Jodrell Bank will be reconfigured while the existing car park will be enlarged to allow space for up to 325 cars.
The pavilion’s exhibitions will focus on the history of Jodrell Bank, which was granted Unesco World Heritage Status last July, highlighting the work of scientists who have worked there.
Julian Gitsham, Hassell principal architect, said: “The completion of the First Light Pavilion will mark a new era for Jodrell Bank. It will introduce new generations to the rich history of the site and the wonders of radio astronomy.
“We have embraced the challenge to push the boundaries of design to deliver an exceptional experience for all who visit this site.”
Professor Teresa Anderson, director of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre at the University of Manchester said: “The new gallery will allow us to tell the story of Jodrell Bank in a way that is in keeping with our status as the UK’s newest Unesco World Heritage Site. The architecture of the building itself is tied to the sky, in a way that expresses humanity’s long journey towards understanding our place in the universe.”
The project team includes Buro Four, DEP, Mott MacDonald, Turley, and WYG.
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