news - NMA

Inspirational Remembrance Centre at National Memorial Arboretum completed

The Rugby construction team has completed a £15.7 million Remembrance Centre at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The newly unveiled building, which has just opened to the public, has significantly expanded and transformed visitor facilities at the Arboretum - the UK’s national focus for remembrance.

The new building, designed by Glenn Howells Architects, features a distinctive and dramatic drum-shaped rotunda audio visual theatre space; an interpretation exhibition and temporary exhibition spaces; a large restaurant; a welcome and orientation area and a learning centre.

The Centre’s limestone façade echoes the Portland stone of the nearby Armed Forces Memorial, while a timber colonnade links the new building with the Arboretum’s original visitor centre which has been retained and extended.  The new Remembrance and Learning Centre also features a timber portico and slatted timber cloisters. Heroes’ Square – a central courtyard space for formal ceremonies – has been created within the cloisters and will provide a striking formal square for set-piece ceremonies. A landscaped garden leads into the wider arboretum where there are 30,000 maturing trees and over 330 memorials.

The main challenges of the 50-week construction programme – contract value £8.8 million - came during the installation of the building’s complex laminated timber (Glulam) and steel structural frame.  Stepnell also worked very closely with the Arboretum’s management team to ensure that the Arboretum remained open throughout the redevelopment work. Following the launch of the enhanced facilities, visitor numbers are expected to increase from 300,000 annually to around 500,000.

Sarah Montgomery, managing director of the National Memorial Arboretum, says: “Following rapid growth in our visitor numbers we desperately needed better facilities in order to ensure a high level of visitor satisfaction.  We also needed a way in which to better communicate the origins and meaning of Remembrance and the many personal stories behind the trees and memorials. Our interactive exhibition is therefore a key element of this ambitious building project.

“Stepnell quickly understood the unique nature of our site and our overriding need to remain fully operational throughout the construction period.  Stepnell exceeded expectations in every respect and we are hugely appreciative of the additional elements they added to the project at their own expense.”

Stepnell construction director Bill Haynes says: “We are extremely proud of our role in helping create the new Remembrance and Learning Centre. This truly inspiring building is a sensitive and sympathetic addition to the Arboretum which will provide world-class, modern facilities for the growing number of people visiting this immensely important national site of remembrance and commemoration.”