Blog: SECBE Awards 2023 Finalist Wiston Estate Winery (ECE Architecture)

05 April 2023

Conservation & Regeneration sponsored by Unilin Insulation

Photo credit: Will Scott

Wiston Estate Winery (submitted ECE Architecture)

Conservation and Regeneration Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2023 finalist

The Wiston Estate Winery redevelopment expands the Winery’s offering as a tourist destination.

ECE were approached by Wiston Estate in 2017 to comprehensively redevelop the site at North Farm in West Sussex, with the primary aim of realising the estate’s strategic plan to create an exemplar enterprise site within the South Downs National Park.

A new restaurant with private dining room has been created though sensitive restoration of two historic flint walled agricultural barns, maintaining a visual reference to the site’s former farm use. The demolition of existing dilapidated storage buildings has allowed for the recreation of the historic courtyard at the heart of the site.

Opportunities for direct sales are now possible within a new build element that houses facilities for wine production, a visitor shop, a wine tour route, and a stunning tasting room. Taking visitors on a journey into the heart of the winery through the barrel hall, viewing gallery and seminar room, finishing with a tasting experience inside another historic barn restoration, all promoting tourism to the South Downs National Park. Extensions and alterations to the winery buildings provided additional production capacity, taking the annual average from 125,000 to 250,000 bottles of wine.

Through consultation with the South Downs National Park, the landscape led approach focused on enhancing the historic farmstead, improving and intensifying a brownfield site. Mature trees and boundary vegetation were retained & added to with plants beneficial to local fauna. The inclusion of new trees along the entrance spine road, and specification of bat and bird boxes/ tiles realise further biodiversity improvements. The SDNP location led to the use of the Dark Skies guidance to conserve the views of the Milky Way.

From the outset a sustainable approach had been adopted towards the design, construction, and operation of the new Winery. An energy hierarchy of Lean, Clean and Green was followed to reduce operational energy use and carbon emissions, with passive design prioritised.

The retention and reuse of existing buildings reduced the developments embodied carbon, with air source heat pumps installed for both the historic and new buildings and electric car charging points provided.

ECE also specified locally sourced materials where practicable. Materials with a connection to nature, or that would express the site’s identity and sense of place were prioritised, such as the locally extracted flint for the gabion wall, existing timber roof trusses retained & reclaimed clay tiles. Oak is widely used for cladding, again sourced on the estate itself. Negligible embodied carbon in manufacture & transport.

A public right of way passes through the site which underwent improvement work, therefore the shop, tour and restaurant will have lasting health and wellbeing benefits for the local population, making access to the South Downs National Park easier. The local economy also benefits, with jobs for local people and the need for local suppliers to service the facilities.

Key achievements:

  • Wiston Estate Winery has already been the recipient of several prestigious awards including winning the Commercial Award and being Highly Commended at the Sussex Heritage Trust Awards. ECE Architecture await confirmation on its final placing at the Civic Trust Awards, where it will either be awarded as winner or highly commended.

  • The completed scheme has revitalised what was an underused part of the South Downs National Park. The Winery now has a tourist facing offering – a new shop, wine tour and restaurant to promote not only the award winning wine, but also local produce. It also makes accessing the SDNP easier with an improved public right of way and facilities for walkers to enjoy.

  • The project has sensitively restored two previously dilapidated historic barns into a fine dining restaurant with external courtyard. The buildings were being left to ruin, but have been reinvented with a new use, maintaining a visual reference to the site’s former farm heritage.

Client: Wiston Estate

Project Partners: ECE Architecture, Cheesmur Building Contractors, Manorwood, HOP Consulting, Robinson Low Francis

Learn more about ECE Architecture:



Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2023 Ceremony on Thurs 29th June 2023.

About the Conservation & Regeneration (sponsored by Unilin Insulation):  

The conservation or rehabilitation of old or historic buildings and sites is often an important part of neighbourhood revitalisation, providing physical and psychological focus for the community and creating jobs and investment opportunities. Construction work that involves the conservation and regeneration of historic buildings requires great care and specialist skills and techniques.  More info.

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2023 finalists here

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