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Visitor Shelters

TYPE: Competition | SECTOR: Public | LOCATION: Achnasheen, Braemore, Lochcarron, Wester Ross, Scotland
TEAM: CROPKA architects | Landscape design: FLOR

Our inspiration for this project is the rugged beauty of the spectacular Wester Ross landscape and the iconic road that is quickly becoming one of Europe's most popular adventure routes for cyclists, bikers and motorists alike - the North Coast 500 - bringing new visitors to this breathtakingly beautiful part of Scotland. Our design for Visitor Information Shelters provides improved orientation in Wester Ross and promotion of local attractions for visitors wherever their travels take them. 

We proposed an affordable modular building solution that can be installed on any site, but is flexible enough to incorporate the custom features necessary to provide each individual site its own unique sense of place. A characteristic, repeating form can become an instantly recognisable focal point, with universal design providing a high quality solution for installation at many locations across Wester Ross. The simplicity of adopting a kit of parts approach allows prefabrication of all above ground components off site (not dependant on weather conditions) and reduces on site construction time to a minimum.

Our choice of materials has been made with careful consideration of impact on each site,  its location in the landscape and environmental impact. Timber, being a natural, locally sourced product has been chosen for the structural frame and cladding, the roof is designed with a robust, translucent ETFE membrane ensuring the interior of the shelter is flooded with natural daylight. At locations with access to power the membrane can be  backlit with efficient LED strips giving the shelter a delicate glow, extending its use into the evening and providing security. At extra cost photovoltaics could  be encapsulated in the membrane enabling each shelter to be entirely self sufficient.

Internally, the shelter walls provide plenty of space for the display of information. All interior cladding panels will be modular, interchangeable and printed with high resolution images of the local area, maps and information about important local attractions. Some panels can be designated as promotional space for local businesses and initiatives. Stainless steel leaflet containers will be built in the cavity between exterior sheathing and interior HPL information boards. Each of the boards can be individually replaced or updated to suit ever changing needs. It would be possible to install interactive screens in the bays between glulam frames.

Across the three sites, the intention is that the shelter be integrated into the landscape setting. It is proposed that a sculptural bench seat be used as a connective device to link the shelter further into the landscape context, whilst adjusting to the specific conditions of each site. The bench seat references the forms of the shelter on the ground plane, and the simple and robust modular design provides flexible seating for visitors. 

Dependent on the site, the intention is introduce native planting and surface treatments as appropriate to the setting.

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