Harwell Visitor Centre


The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory seeks answers to some of science’s biggest questions. How big a computer system do you need to analyse the weather? How do we solve the world’s antibiotics crisis? How do we keep our future energy supplies going?

It is understandable then, that demand for visits to the site is quite high. Funded through the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the laboratory has a commitment to public engagement, meaning it receives visits from everyone from school children to royalty.

When a wider redevelopment was being planned at the Harwell Campus, the lab realised they had an opportunity to provide a purpose made visitor centre to replace the converted space they were occupying in an office block.

  • Project name: Harwell Visitor’s Centre
  • Sector: Education, Commercial
  • Location: Harwell, Oxfordshire
  • Client name: Mace/Science and Technology Facilities Council
  • Supplied by: Wernick Buildings
  • Accommodation type: 1-storey modular building interfaced with large portal frame hall
  • Size: 12 modules and portal frame
  • Features: Large multi-use hall, classroom, meeting room, office, toilets, storage


Wernick Buildings were contracted to design and build the new visitor centre, the focus of which would be a main hall providing enough space to accommodate 200 visitors and versatility for anything from seminars to exhibitions.

Alongside the hall, there is smaller classroom space, a breakout area, and video conferencing suite. The public engagement team is also situated in the centre, which provides them with office and canteen space.

Wernick used a portal frame system to achieve the 400m2 hall with 4.8m ceiling height, with modular units used for the other areas.

Externally the building’s front elevation is finished with contemporary iridescent cladding and features a glass fronted entrance hall.

The building was handed over just 20 weeks after taking possession of the site, with installation of the units taking just two days.