a tower, a hide, a pontoon, an observatory







suggestions for glenuig

a group proposal


Glenuig (Gleann Ùige) is a small village on the west-coast of Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands. Our collective approach to this architectural project has been sensitive - rather than try to solve the various ‘problems’ the local community face, our proposal aims to celebrate what already exists. This is not to say that we have ignored the issues of Glenuig, rather, it is to acknowledge and understand that, as architects, we are not in the appropriate discourse to solve the problems specific to this context. The proposal is composed as the antithesis of centrality, a celebration of the rurality in which the project is framed. As such, each member of the group designed their own architecture or series of architecture to produce an archipelago of structures within proximity to Glenuig. Each project renews and evokes a sense of  place and when placed together,should not exist in



separation, rather, should be bound together as one. Using the framework to John Hejduk’s Victims project and appropriating it to the rurality of Glenuig, the proposal became a series of architectural suggestions. The decision as to whether these structures get built lies with the residents of Glenuig. Some may be built, some may not, and, of course, it is entirely possible that none of the suggestions are built at all. Jamie Begg, Rose Miller, Cameron Young, Cameron Angus, and myself propose the following architectural suggestions for Glenuig:

three bothies and am fasgadh
a house for an individual, a house for a family, and a house for visitors
a residency for an artist
a boat-building school
a tower, a pontoon, a hide, and an observatory














a tower, a hide, a pontoon, an observatory

an individual proposal


This proposal outlines one particular architectural suggestion for the collective suggestions of ‘s dòcha intended for the rural village of Glenuig. The proposal explores the relationship between certain specificities of nature and culture - the formation and inhabitation of Glenuig’s complex environment, and the production of an architectural object within this environment. To harmonise their intersection, the proposal oscillates between the amount of influence one has upon the other. Both formally and spatially, the proposal rejects the erraticism of the topography in favour of a preconditioned system of rationality. Programatically and positionally the proposal is exclusively informed by the local environment and its contents. This interchange of influence aspires to enhance the experience of both the architecture and the environment. This proposal considers three ideas at once:

viewtype
composition
observation








Each of these are explored in four distinct, yet entirely cognate propositions located at discrete habitats in the immediate proximity to Glenuig. An arrangement of architecture akin to an archipelago or constellation is surmised, comprising of:

 a tower
a hide
a pontoon
an observatory

A specific observational focus is affiliated to each of these suggestions and is ascertained from both the name the archetype implies and the most rewarding observational subjects of Glenuig. The tower, hide, pontoon and observatory observe:

the clouds
the birds
the sea
the stars





viewtype




A series of specific viewtypes were abstracted from frozen moments in time along a coastal walk, west of Glenuig. Such variation in viewtype was a product of the landscape’s complexity, perpetually shifting one’s body in all directions. As the terrain is navigated, the eye’s focus oscillates from the foreground, the horizon and eveyrthing in between. This experience translated into the following viewtypes:

spherical

panoramic

framed

vertical








                                                                        

                 inset                                               substrate




                                                                                                                                  clarity                                                  diamond





In such a multifarious environment,
the form and composition of the architectural intent, perhaps paradoxically, emerges not from the myriad of found forms within the landscape, but from its formal opposition, an ordered, culturally and architecturally autonomous appropriation of elemental form and gridded preconditions.The application of such an approach creates formal contrast and subsequent clarity between erraticism and rationality. As such,the architecture and the landscape are appreciated as entirely separate things (which they are) - one of which, a natural formation, the other, a product of culture. What emerges is an architecture that celebrates its own condition. The preconditioned gridded systems have been given appropriate names, but have been extracted from particular references:


inset - reference to Ville Savoye, le Corbusier

substrate - reference to House III, Eisenman


clarity -
reference to Office 39, OFFICE KGDVS


diamond - reference to Diamond House, Hejduk  




composition





observation





What makes Glenuig particularly special is the abundance of natural specificities that can be observed within its proximity. To emphasise these observational foci, and evoke a greater sense of place through the programme of the architecture, four of the most prominent observations were appropriated:
the clouds
the birds
the sea
the stars

























Clinging to a small cliff near Rudh’ a’ Phuill Bhig, the tower is accessible from both the base and crest of the cliff, depending on the direction travelling. A series of ladders transition and circulate each floor, and a small bridge spans the gap between the edge of the cliff and the start of the towers enclosure.
The tower utilizes the sphericalviewtype through the accumulation of views in all directions (above, below, planar, corner). It is to be used for the observation of the clouds. Compositionally, it explores the inset gridded precondition. Additional partitions on both floors orient and direct ones view.








the tower

spherical
inset
the clouds






the hide

framed
substrate
the birds






Partially sunken in to the boggy heathland at the shore of Loch na Bairness, the hide is accessible via an OS marked footpath.

The hide has been designed with reference to the framed viewtype and incorporates a selection of frames, on every plane of the building to augment the potential sighting of bird species within the ecological niches the hide is bound to. In plan, the hide is produced from the substrate spatial composition, whereby the floor plan of the initial grid has been subdivided to create two right angled triangles. One of these volumes has been rotated 45 degrees and shifted along the initial grid so that both volumes intersect one another to form distinct spaces.




























Floating on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, the pontoon is only accessible by small boat or kayak. The pontoon consists of a singular enclosed room and fixed to its centre is the gravity corer, a piece of oceanographic equipment that samples submarine data from the seabed.

The circular shape and the cantilevered roof provide 360 degree panoramic views achieved as the occupant circumnavigates the perimeter. The pontoon is in place to observe the sea. Compositionally, it is produced from a variation of the clarity precondition. The enclosed room’s orthogonal perimeter is paired with the single smooth edge of the circular base to delineate clearly between enclosure and expanse.






pontoon

panoramic
clarity
the sea







observatory

vertical
diamond
the stars







Resting upon a hill in Glenuig, the observatory lies close to the only road passing through the village.The observatory consists of a three volumes with varying degrees of public accessibility. Volume I is entirely public and contains an entrance/reception space, a small gallery space and a cafe on the first floor. Volume II contains the telescope and can be considered semi-public - the ground floor as public realm containing toilets and a teaching space and the first floor considered private when the astronomers are operating the telescope. Volume III contains the laboratory and office space for a group of climatically focused scientists and is entirely private.

A single glazed opening at the vertex of each roof vertically orientates the eye to facilitate the vertical viewpoint. This notion is compounded by the observational focus of the programme, to observe the stars through telescope.In plan, the architecture follows the diamond spatial composition whereby the beams, columns and internal walls are positioned 45 degrees to the envelope. Each volume is connected to one another at a particular corner. The ‘corner’ facilitates a shift in perspective or direction and is explored as reference to the origin of this project, the shifting series of viewpoints experienced along the Glenuig coast.