Northumberland National Park Authority’s The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre at Once Brewed in Northumberland has won international recognition as the UK’s entry for the highly prestigious Landscape Award of the Council of Europe, a competition designed to raise the awareness of the value of landscapes and their roles.

Whilst the overall winner of the 23 entries was a Swiss project, the Sill was given an ‘International Recognition’ rating for being a ‘source of inspiration’.

The Sill was selected by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to represent the UK because of its ability to inspire, involve and engage a variety of people in learning, participation and conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of landscapes.

Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said, “we are delighted that The Sill has been recognized and we thank the Council of Europe for their commendation. We would also like to thank DEFRA for choosing The Sill as the UK entry.”

“We want to use this recognition as another stepping stone in the Sill’s development and ensure it continues to inspire future generations to engage with the landscapes surrounding them.”

National Parks Minister, Lord Gardiner, added, “This award is well-deserved recognition of the fantastic efforts undertaken by the Northumberland National Park Authority with a contemporary building being part of one of England’s most beautiful landscapes. The Sill perfectly encapsulates one of our 25 Year Environment Plan’s key ambitions to connect more people with the natural environment.”

Maguelonne Dejant-Pons, executive secretary of the European Landscape Convention, commented, “We would like to extend our warmest congratulations to the Northumberland National Park Authority,”

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project is the result of an innovative partnership between Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA (England & Wales). The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a National Lottery grant of £7.8million towards The Sill project to help transform how people connect with the landscape.

Designed by JDDK Architects, The Sill opened in July 2017 and welcomed its 250,000th visitor in April 2019, more than 10 months ahead of target. Housing an 86 bed youth hostel, the Centre is now a world class visitor destination, featuring exhibitions, learning and event spaces, a local food café, rural business unit and visitor shop specialising in local crafts and produce.

The centre has been designed and constructed in an exceptionally considerate way, delivering a contemporary sustainable building with the biodiversity measures incorporated alongside other sustainability features including solar panels, photo voltaics, bat barn and habitats for bats and birds within the building. Collaborative planning and consultation was vitally important to ensure that the building responded to the local context and delivered on its final purpose for the users.


The local landscape and biodiversity has shaped the building form and the biodiversity measures taken. One of the key aims of the project going forwards is to allow visitors to learn about the local biodiversity. The Whin Sill grassland roof is fully accessible to all, allowing all visitors to reach a viewing platform with panoramic views. It is the only one of its kind in the world and has already been used by students to learn more about carbon capture, geology and ecology.

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