The Cass Sculpure Foundation on the Goodwood estate in West Sussex is beautifully inspiring in so many ways. Nestled in 26 acres of ancient bluebell covered woodland, gardens and glades, it’s a curated sculptural collection with a selection of buildings that inform and inspire, whilst beautifully complementing their natural environment. Founded in 1992 by Wilfred and Jeannette Cass, the not-for-profit sculpture park seeks to encourage and enable creativity in contemporary sculpture. Over 50 works are dotted along trails in the woodland that encourage reflection, interaction and play around the stories told by the art.
The main buildings – the Visitors’ Gallery and Foundation Centre – are both excellent examples of Biophilic Design. With full glass walls, natural materials and green roofs, visitors are immersed in the natural surroundings, with views, light and movement all around. The wooden clad exterior of the Visitors’ Gallery gives the structure a majestic quality, yet one that feels very much part of its surrounding. Designed in steel, wood and glass by Craig Downie in 1994, it was to be functional yet discreetly communicating with its environment, with one end directly facing the woodland. The simple colours, materials and lines were designed to blend into nature over time. Internally, the visitor moves between glass expanses and solid wood panes, moving between views of the environment that surrounds them.
In 2006, Studio Downie Architects was commissioned to create the Foundation Centre, housing offices, an exhibition space and library. Cut into the chalk, the centre’s flint colouring is a nod to this typical Sussex stone.
With up to fifteen commissions per year and many activities and workshops for adults and children, the Cass Sculture Foundation definitely deserves regular visits. www.sculpture.org.uk
Photos by Anna Sjöström Walton