The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, at Once Brewed in Northumberland, opened to the public on 29th July 2017 and has since received acclaim from visitors and Northumberland businesses as a whole. It was developed with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The facility, run by Northumberland National Park Authority, features a landscape exhibition, a temporary exhibition space,  learning and event spaces, a local produce café, rural business hub, a world-class 86 bed Youth Hostel and a shop specialising in local crafts and produce. The Sill’s fully accessible living whin sill grassland roof sweeps gently upwards, giving visitors a bird’s eye vantage point across one of the UK’s most magnificent landscapes and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall. 

JDDK have been using the Revit platform for Building Information Modelling (BIM) and drawing development since 2008 so it was a natural step to use this on The Sill project where the difficult geometry and lack of 90 degree angles lent itself to this technology. This was the largest and most complicated model JDDK had created to date.  

The team enjoyed a successful RIBA NE Awards event, held at The Museum Gardens, York on Thursday 24 May, winning the prestigious RIBA North East Award for 2018.


 The Sill contains a café, rural business hub, youth hostel and shop


Along with developing federated models within the design team, to allow checking and clash detection, there was a need to develop a specification for the construction phase of the project.  Where previously specifications had been difficult to incorporate into the technical detail of design, during the early project stages NBS released the NBS Create specification tool and this gave JDDK a chance to embrace this challenge on The Sill and push this technology forward.

Navigate the 3D model of the The Sill building using the interactive display above

(3D technology powered by Autodesk Forge)

Using NBS Create alongside Revit allowed JDDK to develop the construction drawing package in tandem with the specification and seamlessly integrate the two. Rather than just using this as a tool for 3D elements JDDK pushed this feature to include all the 2D elements used for construction detailing within the project enabling swift, accurate development of the construction package and consequently allowing for easy specification and drawing changes where required. The approach also gave consistency across the large design set; reduced notation errors and drafting time; and allowed JDDK to develop new workflows for future projects. The contractor appreciated the clarity and accuracy of the technical documentation during the construction phase.

The Sill’s fully accessible living roof sweeps gently upwards, giving visitors a bird’s eye vantage point across one of the UK’s most magnificent landscapes


Project Architect, Alison Thornton-Sykes, said: “The whole team at JDDK are incredibly proud of what we achieved at The Sill. Our brief was for a landmark building which would become the hub of visitor activities, welcoming visitors and supporting communities throughout the Northumberland National Park. Sustainability and public consultation were at the core of the design process with the finished building inspired by the rugged Northumbrian countryside. A contemporary addition to the landscape, respectfully fitting in to its natural surroundings.”


The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland 


You can visit The Sill during the Great Exhibition of the North and enjoy 'Digital Landscapes', which showcases how digital technology can be used to gain a deeper understanding and enjoyment of landscape and the natural world. For further information, visit the Sill website. 


About the #FutureBuildings exhibition

Create your own building of the future and try out technologies that are breaking the boundaries of what’s possible in construction. Our Future Buildings exhibition runs from 22nd June to 9th September as part of the Great Exhibition of the North. 

Find out more

Visit the JDDK website
Visit The Sill website