Snowdon Visitor Centre
At 1,085 metres, this unique visitor centre is one of the highestbuilding in the UK, responding to one of the most extreme climaticlocations: the mountain endures facing winds of 120mph,
temperaturesthat can go below -200C and 5 m of rain every year.
The combination of extreme weather conditions and the logisticaldifficulties of building on top of a mountain meant a collaborativeeffort was needed by the design team and client.
The list of special design considerations for this unique project isendless - life cycle costs, building life, sustainable development andcomplex design considerations.
The entire frame for instance was constructed from galvanized steelsections which had to be sized to resist the significant wind speed andsnow loadings that the building would be subjected to. In order tooptimise the frame design, special 3-D software was used to model thebuilding and efficiently calculate load paths. This also had to takeinto account the temporary stability of the frame as it was beingerected in stages. The structure was pre-assembled at Shotton so thatall adjustments and fixings for secondary cladding items could befinalised. Once this process was completed, the frame was then takenaway to be galvanized before being transported to the summit. Despitethe difficult weather conditions, the entire primary frame wastransported to the summit and assembled in little over a week.
The majority of the exterior is clad in granite with large glazedopenings providing unrivalled views of the summit and surroundinglandscape. In order to make the windows secure during the winter shut down, galvanized steel roller shutters were integrated in to the windowand cladding assembly. The severity of the weather conditions, withhigh levels of water saturation and constant freeze thawing, called foran extremely robust shutter design. The shutter assembly includingguides, access panels and running gear were all exposed to the elements,so achieving the correct levels of material protection was critical. One interesting concern was that locals thought the galvanized shutterswould cause glare and reflection problems, for this reason, allcomponents were pre-exposed so that the finish had a chance to dull downto its normal gunmetal grey colour before installation.
The external balustrade to the platform is constructed from galvanizedsteel components which are designed to be easily dismantled for winterremoval. If they were left in situ, the weight of the horizontal sheetsof wind driven rhyme ice build would cause them to buckle. The simplekey clamp system with mesh infill panels provided an elegant and durablesolution.