Country Boarding Visitor Centre

Zminkowska De Boise Architects, Baldock, 2017


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Country Boarding Visitor Centre is for a boarding kennels and dog park in Slip End, near Baldock in north Hertfordshire.

It acts as a hub for dropping off and collecting dogs, and directing visitors to the facilities around the site.

The building draws on surrounding vernacular buildings for formal and material inspiration. It has a simple geometric form, with one steeper pitched roof to the south-east, one shallower pitched roof to the north-west, a clerestory in between them, and a portico wrapping around the south corner.

The portico has over-sized timber posts and beams and is covered with translucent profiled GRP sheet, to signify and shelter the entrance door, shade the windows, and frame views across the park and fields.

The building is constructed with blue engineering brickwork plinth walls, with well insulated and sealed, timber-framed walls and roofs above. Externally, the walls are clad with black timber cladding and the roofs are covered with black traditional 'cast iron' profiled steel sheet.

Internally, under the steeper pitched roof is an open plan hall with a reception desk, small shop, café, and kitchen, with wide circulation areas between them for people and dogs. Under the shallower pitched roof are service spaces. Finishes and fittings are robust and easy to clean and maintain. The walls and ceilings are lined with birch plywood, which is painted at low level and clear lacquered at high level for natural material warmth.

Natural lighting and ventilation is provided by windows, which are orientated to catch the prevailing south-east wind across the site. Artificial lighting, heating, and ventilation are powered by photovoltaic arrays on three of the adjacent kennel blocks.

The visitor centre has proved to be the key to unlocking the site’s potential, and this has been reflected by a 25% increase in visitors since opening.


  • Begun: Feb 2017
  • Completed: Sep 2017
  • Floor area: 76m2
  • Sector: Sports and leisure
  • Total cost: £209,000
  • Funding: Part funded by the European Union Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
  • Procurement: Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) Minor Works Building Contract with Contractor’s Design (MWD) 2016
  • Address: Country Boarding for Cats and Dogs, Baldock, SG7 6NL, United Kingdom