White Scar Caves

Mason Gillibrand Architects, North Yorkshire, 2004


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Glulam frame 

Daniel Hopkinson     Download Original

  • Glulam frame    
  • Entrance    
  • View from above, the grass roof blends with the hilllside    
  • View out towards the North    
  • Site plan    
  • Long section    
  • Timber structure    
  • Isometric detail    

A large turf-roofed canopy for White Scar Caves, one of the main tourist attractions in the Yorkshire Dales

The project was designed to improve and unify the existing spaces, including ticket office, manager's house, café and WCs, and provide a sheltered space for visitors waiting for a tour of the caves.

The caves are open all year and the design was led by the character of the site and its relatively harsh climate. The canopy is elemental and solid, the timber deck with green turf roof blends with the hillside above and metaphorically ‘extends’ the mouth of the cave. From a distance the canopy appears simply as an opening in the hillside.

The canopy had to resist wind uplift but, due to its position in the mountain-side, the need to accommodate snow-load was even more critical. The timber deck is covered with a two-layer turf roof system with 45 tonnes of soil and grass – heavy enough to resist wind uplift – supported by glulam beams.

Eight 450 x 135mm tapered beams rest at the rear on the ticket office and fan out imperceptibly towards the main entrance opening. A further four beams, set at the side and further back, shelter the entrance to the cave itself.


  • Completed: 2004
  • Floor area: 275m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Address: Ingleton, North Yorkshire, LA6 3AW, United Kingdom

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