Northern Roots reveals final designs for visitor center as plans are submitted

Final designs for a Visitor Center and Learning Center at Oldham’s Northern Roots Eco-Park have been submitted for planning approval.

A cafe, shop, outdoor amphitheater and classroom are among the elements to be included in the scheme, with the buildings to sit at opposite ends of the Snipe Clough site.

Led by architect Alison Thornton-Sykes of JDDK Architects, the consultation included building design workshops with Oldham College, Mahdlo Youth Zone and the general public of Oldham.

Alison Thornton-Sykes with students from Oldham College.

The resulting visitor center, which will provide a café, exhibit, shop and meeting space, has been designed to blend into the surrounding natural environment and nestles in the wooded edge at the northern end of the site.

Ms Thornton-Sykes said: ‘The visitor center was inspired by the transformation of a caterpillar from the cocoon stage to an emerging butterfly.

“This journey of transformation remains symbolic of the wider transformation of the Northern Roots site from its industrial past to a green masterplan, with the butterfly roof rising from an elliptical-shaped building surrounding an inviting courtyard.”

The Oldham Times:

The layout of the welcome center is structured around a central cloister leading to the reception area which flows into the retail space and also provides access to the staff areas and a space for meditation and multi-denominational prayer service.

The cloister continues to provide access to washrooms, including a changing room and multi-purpose/learning space.

From the reception, the stairs and the lift lead to a cafe on the first floor.

The cafe opens onto a south-facing terrace that connects to steps and a pathway leading to an amphitheater.

The Oldham Times:

Inspired by treehouses, the Learning Center, meanwhile, is in a wooded area southeast of the app boundary.

It will consist of a set of interconnected half-timbered buildings, which will be placed on stilts.

The center will house a reception, classrooms, a teaching kitchen and rest area, staff facilities, a multi-faith prayer and meditation space, restrooms and a dormitory.

There will also be central and external meeting space for outdoor learning.

The full planning application can be viewed on Oldham Council’s website.

A separate planning application for a cycling center and trails in Northern Roots was submitted in February.

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