National Trust Leigh Woods

Leigh Woods is already a diverse outdoor gallery of permanent and temporary sculptures and art and a home to activities from walking to mountain biking. It already appeals to nature and heritage enthusiasts and functions as an outdoor classroom.

The opportunity here was to engage regular visitors with the woods in unfamiliar ways, to attract and orientate new visitors, and to immerse all in the continued work required to preserve and protect the woods.

We wanted to help a visitor develop the skills required to engage with the landscape in simple and deeper ways, such as recognising species of plants, birds or animals, or being able to read subtle features giving clues to human or natural origin.

The brief required the inside of the Welcome Hut to compliment the outside, with a more creative feel, so we suggested approaching the inside as a ‘garden shed’ for a woodlands. Lining walls with pinboard allowing graphics to be painted directly to the pinboard, and for panel sections to be easily updated when required.

For us, the defining part of this story is the proximity of the site to Bristol, crossing the gorge and moving so quickly from busy, historic city to peaceful, ancient woodlands Igniting senses to help visitors engage with the landscape in deeper ways, to have them wanting to make journeys into it, and return again for more, is what the overall project was aiming to achieve.