Wendover Woods Visitors Centre

Wendover Woods Visitors Centre

The Chilterns

Wendover Woods visitor hub is a woodland meeting point with views over the Chiltern Hills, delivered for Forestry England as part of their £4.5 million redevelopment of the forest centre. The project comprises a new visitor centre and café, rangers welcome buildings, new convenience facilities, new woodland trails, play areas, workshops and a new 600 space car park.

The concept for the visitor centre was to create a simple delicate ‘floating’ plane suspended on a minimal support structure, referencing the notion of a ‘forest of columns’.

The use of ‘off-site construction’ methods minimised disruption to the park’s visitors during the works and Re-Format’s design, siting the visitor centre on the edge of an elevated clearing, fulfilled Forestry England’s desire to balance providing a meaningful position for the public to take in the views whilst dramatically reducing the need for tree removal.

The British larch clad café is family-run and committed to employing local people and using local produce. A comfortable and welcoming environment is created by the use of generous natural lighting and underfloor heating from Air Source Heat Pumps, reflecting Forestry England’s dedication to the sustainable principles of being ‘good for people, good for nature and good for the green economy’.

Wendover Woods had outgrown the previous café and WC buildings and their location lacked connectivity with the wider site’s key activities or any relationship with the views across the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These original buildings have been retained and repurposed as an education centre and an information kiosk, and integrated into an improved site layout that provides a real sense of place.

The new journey from arrival to activities is coherent and logical but also has moments of joy with the gentle sloping grounds of the forest revealed to users as they pass under the canopy of the expanded visitor hub. Befitting of its setting, Wendover Woods visitor centre is a celebration of timber which has enhanced the public’s enjoyment and experience of their visit to the forest.

“I did just want to thank you for all the hard work you have put into the Wendover project over recent weeks and months. There has been some very impressive work delivered by Re-Format, and it is very much appreciated. I think you very quickly captured what we were looking to achieve.”

Neil Kellet
Head of Recreation- Forestry Commission