Professor Ruth Conroy Dalton has critically
analysed 20 award-winning contemporary visitor centres across
the UK, including those at The Giant’s Causeway in Northern
Ireland; Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland; Stonehenge in Wiltshire and
the newly-opened The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre in
Her book, Designing for Heritage: Contemporary Visitor Centres,
focuses on the most architecturally significant examples of
visitor centres to be designed and built throughout the UK in
Through a series of short essays and beautifully illustrated
photographs and architectural drawings, the book examines the
social role of visitor centres; their focus on visitors’ needs
and how architects work to develop a relationship between the
centre and its surrounding landscape.
As a Professor of Building Usability and Visualisation, Ruth is
particularly interested in how architectural design can place
the user at its heart. Her research specialises in the
relationship between the spatial design of buildings and
environments and their effect on how people understand and
interact in those spaces.
Speaking about her inspiration behind the book, Professor Dalton
explained: “With tourists expecting higher levels of service,
information and retail opportunities, visitor centres have
become a vital component in providing access to heritage sites,
historic buildings, landscapes of natural beauty and monuments.
“As a consequence, numerous architecturally renowned centres
have been designed and built in recent years.
“It is perhaps no surprise that many have been featured in
architectural awards, as they not only offer a ‘jewel’ of a
project to architects, being small in scale but high in profile,
but the buildings must also respond sympathetically to a rich
physical and cultural context.”
Designing for Heritage: Contemporary Visitor Centres is
published by Lund Humphries