There may be strong reasons for using traditional or vernacular forms, materials and construction in an area. There may be other buildings nearby, and too much contrast could look out of place. In many wilder places, pioneer or homestead style using local materials without a high level of finish can be entirely appropriate.
Neutral or non-domestic style
Here the building forms are derived from the shapes and character found in the landscape, such as rocks, landform and trees. Vertical emphasis can be given to the building in a forest or where there are steep mountains, while a horizontal emphasis is more suitable to flatter land, or near a lake or the sea. In this way the sculptural qualities of the building can reflect and interpret those found in the surrounding landscape.
The building should be set into the landscape so that its size does not dominate. This is difficult to achieve in smaller-scale landscapes, so external treatments such as earth mounds and tree-planting might be needed to reduce the apparent size and proportions of the structure. Heavy roofs that overhang, subdued neutral or earth colours and coarse textures all help to tie the building down into the landscape (see discussions of toilet block and shelter design in Chapters 6, 7 and 9). Continuing the path – surfacing materials in to the building also creates a sense of continuity with the rest of the site.
Every care should be taken to ensure that the visitor centre is not a surrogate for the real landscape, so the interpretation plan should stimulate the visitors’ appetite to explore and spend time in the outdoors while respecting it.