The Scottish Seabird Centre, set on a rocky promontory, is a low asymmetrical building; its battered stone and larchboarded walls are sheltered by a dramatic copper roof - a series of curved and overhanging planes which were inspired by the form of a bird's wing. To integrate the building in its natural surroundings, the roof height has been reduced by housing exhibition and auditorium spaces at a lower level. The public spaces on the ground floor - reception/restaurant - are arranged around a circular void open to the lower level; it acts as a lightwell, directing natural light from the conical cupola in the roof. It also allows visitors, protected by a glazed balustrade, glimpses of the exhibition.
Natural materials, with an emphasis on sustainability and conservation, were used where possible. The roof structure, a series of unplaned larch trusses, is supported by circular precast columns at the perimeter and by larch poles around the lightwell.
Copper was chosen as a roof covering for its ability to withstand the marine environment. The 0.7mm thick copper sheets are connected with timber hip battens and standing seams. They lie on geotextile felt and T&G sarking board with a ventilated gap below. At the eaves the roof extends beyond the walls and tapers to a bull-nosed, copperclad edge. The inset copperlined gutter is trimmed with standing seam and drop apron details; it drains to copper outlets, hoppers and rainwater downpipes. Soffits are clad with untreated T&G Douglas fir boarding.
The cupola is set below the ridges of the copper roof, creating a clerestory of Velux roolights and a deck/gutter for access. It is glazed with a series of triangular double-glazed units.