Gloucester Services

Gloucester Services

‘A beacon of hope for hungry drivers looking for quality food’ was how an eminent restaurant critic described Gloucester Motorway Services, which recently opened between junctions 11a and 12 of the north and south bound sides of the M5 near Brookethorpe, Gloucester.

‘A beacon of hope for hungry drivers looking for quality food’ was how an eminent restaurant critic described Gloucester Motorway Services, which recently opened between junctions 11a and 12 of the north and south bound sides of the M5 near Brookethorpe, Gloucester. The quality does not only apply to the food; the new services and their landscaping take a fresh approach to motorway service design, a reinvention and reinvigoration of a well-known building type, which has won several awards.

There are two visitor buildings and two petrol stations, one on each side of the motorway. The visitor buildings are both set well back from the motorway itself and their associated parking spaces, for cars, trucks, coaches, caravans and services, have been carefully landscaped and co-ordinated into a harmonious whole. Each visitor building has a single storey glazed entrance set within its gently mounded convex shape, covered with a luxuriant green roof which sweeps down on all sides.

This helps to give the impression that it merges into the rolling Cotswold countryside in which it is set. Excavated materials from the construction site were re-used in the landscaping, which together with the building itself, act as a barrier to motorway sound. The project is the brainchild of the Dunning family, founders of Westmorland Ltd, who opened their first motorway service area at Tebay, Cumbria, in 1972, when the M6 motorway was built through their hill farm. Their business has always emphasised quality food and Tebay has been regularly voted Britain’s favourite motorway stop.

Gloucester Services has no franchised brands; homemade hot food and excellent cakes are produced on site in its kitchens and the shops – including an excellent butcher – celebrate small-scale local food producers, all sourced within 30 miles of the site. The client’s radical approach to business extended to the design; to develop a form and setting which would be sustainable and bed seamlessly into the surrounding landscape. The use of timber was a key component to achieving this.

With their farming background, the client wanted the main public areas of the buildings to be a large internal space that was reminiscent of a contemporary barn. This has been achieved by an exposed timber structure, creating a calm and warm environment which also reveals the shape of the curved roof.

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