Looking as though it were poised to take flight, the Blackburn Wing is a multi-award-winning conference venue located within the ancient woodlands of the historic Bowcliffe Estate in Yorkshire, UK. Designed by The Harris Partnership and commissioned by the Bayford Group, the aerofoil-shaped ‘treehouse’ (as it is sometimes described) is located in the grounds of an estate that once belonged to aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn – a fact that inspired both the aeronautical theme of the design and the name of the venue.
About the project
The 200-square-metre Blackburn Wing is part of a £6 million refurbishment of the estate. The curved wooden beams and tensile cables of the construction reference the biplane wings that Robert Blackburn is credited with creating. Clad in copper, it is cantilevered 30 metres above ground, supported by galvanized steel legs and reinforced with steel cross-bracings. Two wooden walkways form a connection between the ‘wing’, with its spectacular wrap-around balconies, and the estate grounds.
In addition to copper and wood, glass plays a central role in the design. Glass feature balustrades on the balconies and walkways – created by Q-railing – together with floor-to-ceiling curtain walls allow for stunning unobstructed views of the surrounding woodland. As a result, users of the building experience a feeling of openness and connection with nature. In total, 140 metres of balustrade were installed, with Easy Glass MOD 0763 glass adapters and stainless steel cap rails.
Since its completion in February 2015, the Blackburn Wing has won numerous awards for its high-quality construction as well as its sensitivity to nature and feeling of connection with its surroundings.
TECHNAL CURTAIN WALLING FOR AWARD-WINNING ‘TREE TOP’ EVENTS CENTRE
Aluminium curtain walling from Technal has contributed to a multi-award winning conference venue which has achieved ‘architectural excellence’ for its design and construction suspended in the woodland canopy on the historic Bowcliffe Estate in Yorkshire.
Designed by architects The Harris Partnership and built by Conlon Construction, the 2,060sqft aerofoil-shaped ‘treehouse’ was commissioned by the Bayford Group at the former ancestral home of aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn, who inspired its aeronautical theme and its name, the Blackburn Wing.
Accommodating up to 140 people, the stunning timber, copper and glass events centre is the centrepiece of a £6m multi-phase restoration project across the nineteenth century listed estate near Wetherby. It is one of only two structures ever to have been built in an area of ancient woodland and appears to float among the trees.
The project has now won two RIBA (Yorkshire) awards, an RICS award – Yorkshire Tourism and Leisure Project of the Year, and was highly commended in the Project of the Year category at the Constructing Excellence awards.
Fabricated and installed by AW Glazing, Technal’s GEODE-MX SG structural glazing was used for this unique structure to provide stunning views of the surrounding woodland and to maintain a feeling of openness and nature, both inside and out. The façade system carries large 3m high by 1.5m wide spans of high performance toughened glass.
The GEODE-MX SG curtain walling option has a specially-designed ‘toggle’ which removes the need for silicone bonding to hold the glazed units in place, making it faster and simpler to install whilst giving a frameless appearance. On this project, the curtain walling extends along one side of the 40m long ‘wing’ and follows the curved contours at each end of the building. It is finished in a low maintenance black polyester powder coating.
Commenting on the curtain walling specification Oliver Clark, Project Architect at The Harris Partnership, said, “We are incredibly proud of this scheme and are very happy with Technal’s curtain walling. It was absolutely paramount that the glazing to the ‘wing’ of the building provided uninterrupted views across the woodland and a clean, crisp façade with a glass-to-glass appearance that correlated with the copper cladding. This has been perfectly achieved with the GEODE-MX system.”
The judges at the RIBA awards said, "This building is a tour de force, a piece of bravado, worthy of its inspiration, its location and the passion of its client. Whilst equally bold in both its conception and final form, its aptness to its siting within both a historic environment and among precious trees is admirably – even surprisingly – sympathetic."
The building’s structure is supported by galvanised steel legs which are stabilised with steel cross-bracing to replicate the original appearance of a biplane wing. There are two wooden ‘runways’ which link the wing to the estate grounds leading to the main building. The aeronautical design theme is referenced internally with a bespoke bar created from a Boeing 747 engine intake cowling; tables have been fabricated in the shape of aeroplane wings, and a frame taken from the wing structure of a Hawker Siddeley DC-9.
Technal’s GEODE-MX curtain walling can be used to create a variety of architectural compositions from a single grid system – low to high rise façades, horizontal or vertical emphasis, and ribbon, structural, faceted, beaded and sloped glazing. GEODE-MX Acoustic for additional noise protection and GEODE-MX62 for larger glass sizes are among the extensive range of curtain walling options.
The Blackburn Wing is a 2,060 sq. ft copper and glass treehouse conference venue, which is shaped like an airplane wing. It is the centrepiece of a £6m project at Grade II-listed Bowcliffe Hall in Wetherby, Yorkshire.
Commissioned by serial entrepreneur Jonathan Turner, CEO of the Bayford Group, the Blackburn Wing, at the former ancestral home of unsung aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn, is one of only two structures ever to have been built in an area of ancient woodland.
Designed and built with meticulous attention to detail, the copper and glass masterpiece took approximately 50 weeks and over 30,000 man hours to build and pays tribute to aviation hero Robert Blackburn, a Yorkshireman who introduced the first scheduled air service in Great Britain and designed and built one of the first powered aeroplanes.
A spectacular venue that can accommodate up to 60 delegates theatre style, 18 delegates boardroom style, 26 delegates cabaret style, 60 for formal dining and up to 100 for a drinks reception, the Blackburn Wing is unique and unforgettable.
The Wing was part of a multi-phase restoration of the nineteenth century estate where redundant space has been converted into offices.
The Blackburn Wing was designed by architects The Harris Partnership, and built by Conlon Construction.
Jonathan Turner’s restoration of Bowcliffe, which is breathing new life back into the 200-year old hall and its 40-acre estate as an up-market, country house office location, has been inspired by the house’s rich aviation heritage.
With a colour changing lighting system that can be set to suit your corporate colours, the Blackburn Wing is fully air conditioned and benefits from a blackout facility, full AV facilities including integrated HDMI data projector & screen with a fully cohesive Bose sound system. Free on site parking, free wifi with an onsite IT advisory service and delegate stationery are also available.