Dynamic duo go extra mile for new visitor complex

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The architects who will be designing the Coed y Brenin Visitor Centre extension have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the new building meets everyone’s expectations.

John Taylor, Recreation Manager for Forestry Commission Wales which manages the site on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, also went the extra mile – or seven – as George Mikurcik of award-winning architectural designers Architype took research to a whole new level.

John teamed up with George for the Coed y Brenin Off-road Duathlon to allow the architect to get a feel for what it’s like to be a visitor so that the new development, part of the ambitious Eryri Centre of Excellence, will be truly customer focused.

The Eryri Centre of Excellence is a partnership between Gwynedd Council and four delivery partners, Forestry Commission Wales (FCW), Urdd Gobaith Cymru, Antur Stiniog and Prysor Angling.

The development has been part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government.

John said, “George is a keen mountain biker and wanted to understand the visitors’ perspective as part of the process of design and site interpretation.

“I love training in the woods and go on the 7k waymarked run before work at Coed y Brenin with Tosh my dog, so I was happy to make up a relay team with George.

"We want to be sure that this new complex exceeds the hopes of those people who visit our woodlands for a wide range of exciting opportunities for recreation.”

Coed y Brenin will benefit from a new bike retail and hire facility, conference room, FC Wales-run shop and other amenities as part of the exciting new Centre for Excellence.

The development was made possible thanks to £1.4 million of mainly European funding from the Environment for Growth programme after a bid was put together by Gwynedd County Council, Forestry Commission Wales and other project partners.

It’s hoped that all the timber used in the new building will be from Wales and the architects have been set a tough challenge for the building’s green credentials.

“We’ve told the architects how we want the building to perform and what environmental standards we want it to achieve, but not where we want it or what shape it should be,” said John.

“The building must complement the existing visitor centre but, beyond that, it’s for the architects to come up with design solutions.”

The focus for the building will be on energy conservation rather than substitution, avoiding the random use of sustainable features which can create a building suffering from what has become known as "eco bling".

John and George’s participation in the duathlon also benefited the Gwynedd Air Ambulance and the Rotary Club of Mawddach.

The event consisted of two 5k trail runs undertaken by John, interspersed with a 20k mountain bike ride by George.

It’s hoped to have some initial drawings of the new building by the end of the year.


About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.

For more information on the development at Coed y Brenin forest park, contact John Taylor on 01341 440747, mobile 07919 393717, email

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

The £3.2bn 2007-2013 programmes in Wales include the Convergence programmes for West Wales and the Valleys (the successor to Objective 1), and the Regional Competitiveness and Employment programmes for East Wales. The programmes are delivered by the Welsh Assembly Government and are aimed at creating employment opportunities, business growth, regenerating Wales’ most deprived communities and protecting the environment.

Media enquiries to Forestry Commission Wales press officer Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email