National Space Centre   Leicester, UK

As the only dedicated facility for space science and astronomy in the UK, the National Space Centre provides resources for education and research as well as an internationally recognised exhibition venue.

A landmark Millennium Project for the East Midlands, the centre replaces a disused brownfield site to give 5,000 sq m of space in addition to the singular Rocket Tower.

The main exhibition hall provides a flexibly arranged, double-height volume and, along with the education areas, is economically sited in a renovated storm-water tank. Wrapped in an outer layer of perforated metal that unites the building from afar, the varied opacity of the cladding reveals itself on approach to the centre.

The geodesic dome of the planetarium is the apex of the roof’s spiralling geometry. It perforates the concrete roof slab and acts as a foil to the soaring vertical tower.

Housing the 'Blue Streak' F16 and Thor Abel rockets, and spatially defined by their dimensions, the tower is a highly efficient steel structure with minimal secondary supports.

Its cladding of ETFE pillows clearly signals the building’s presence from afar; at night its illuminated form suggests the grandeur and excitement of space travel.

The tower was a serious learning experience covering issues such as heat loss / heat gain, insulation, solar protection, wind chill factors, skin reflectivity and absorption, rain screen and weather protection, energy generation by solar cells, etc.

Sir Nicholas Grimshaw

Leicester, UK

Project Type
Culture and Exhibition Halls →

National Space Centre Property Co Ltd

7,600 sq m



Nathan Willock, Herbie Knott