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National Space Centre – Launch Pad

Project value: £863K

Sector: Leisure & Tourism

Local labour within 25 miles: 47%

Local spend within 25 miles: 53%

Considerate Constructors score: 48/50

Customer satisfaction: 8.5/10

Young people engaged throughout the project: 78

All members of the team were enthusiastic, fully engaged and committed to understanding and delivering our vision. I would highly recommend SCAPE Venture and Woodhead Group."

Chas Bishop

CEO | The National Space Centre

The National Space Centre is an award-winning tourist attraction, that is home to the UK’s largest planetarium and iconic 42m-high Rocket Tower.

It attracts around 300,000 visitors every year to the East Midlands and plays a key role in helping children and adults alike learn about astronomy and space exploration in an interactive environment.

The 'Launch Pad' was procured through the SCAPE Venture framework and delivered by Robert Woodhead who completed the new build and internal refurbishment on time and on budget. The building has since been awarded both the ‘Integration and Collaborative Working’ and ‘Value’ categories at the Celebrating Construction Awards 2019.

Project highlights

With a 50 per cent increase in footfall over the last five years, this popular Leicester attraction required a multi-million-pound series of works to help accommodate record numbers of visitors and provide a world-class tourist experience.

The ‘Launch Pad’ provides a cost-effective but beautiful building that includes an iconic entrance and purpose-built ticketing hall with added space to display some of the centre’s truly world-class artefacts. The extension complements the existing design of the Rocket Tower and is in keeping with the style of the rest of the centre.

Efficient delivery

One of the client’s key requirements was for the centre to be completed and open for business during the high-peak school summer holiday period.

With a fully integrated supply chain, who were involved right from the feasibility stage, Robert Woodhead were able to quickly mobilise the project with the pre-construction period lasting only 11 weeks.

Collaborative working
With such tight timeline, the project required the complete co-ordination of 14 subcontractors and up to 35 site operatives onsite at any one time.

A truly collaborative approach across the scheme was integral to deliver the project efficiently.

The Launch Pad was designed to provide a bright and welcoming visitor experience, as well as extensive exhibition and educational space. A bespoke elliptical illuminated feature roof light provides a stunning view up to the Rocket Tower and a truly memorable first impression for visitors.

The extension had to be seamlessly and carefully integrated into the existing Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene clad (ETFE) Rocket Tower, which is home to some of the centre’s largest exhibits, including the Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets.

Protecting the iconic ETFE Rocket Tower
Integrating the extension into an existing building that is clad in ETFE posed a significant risk and required extreme care from the site team throughout.

Aura Fabric Engineers Ltd and steelwork frame designer Tensys, who were involved in creating the 42m-high Rocket Tower in 2000-2001, were engaged early in the process. Their expertise was crucial in shaping the programme, allowing for the long lead times for the steel frame and optimising the delivery methodology to minimise the risk of puncturing the existing tower .

Elliptical roof
As with many existing structures, significant care had to be given to complete the roofing system around an unusually-shaped roof light and at the interfaces between the new roof and the Rocket Tower. . A cold, low odour liquid roofing system was applied to the contours of the roof, which mitigated the risks associated with hot works protecting the existing structure of the tower.

The UK’s first Considerate Constructors ‘Ultra Site'

This flagship project was the first scheme under £1m and 52-weeks in duration to be registered as an ‘Ultra Site’ through the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS).

‘Ultra Sites’ exceed the highest standards and collaboration across the entire industry.

The new building will enable the National Space Centre to deliver an improved visitor experience by speeding up the ticketing process, providing new space to showcase exciting exhibitions and increasing the capacity for group visits.

Sent into space
‘Sent into space’ was an event that saw a high altitude launch of a golden bolt to the edge of space, signifying a lasting legacy at The Launch Pad. The site team worked with The National Space Centre, key stakeholders, supply chain partners, CCS, local schools and a special ‘Sent Into Space team’ to hold a day that celebrated both construction and space.


Considerate Constructors score


Customer satisfaction


Young people engaged throughout the project

In collaboration with:

SCAPE Construction Primary Logo
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