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‘Serious, almost grim’ visitor centre opens at Bannockburn site

Reiach and Hall has completed the visitor centre near Stirling ahead of Scots independence vote

Reiach and Hall Architects has completed this £9 million visitor centre at the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. The scheme for the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland commemorates Robert the Bruce’s celebrated victory over English monarch Edward II in 1314.

The Edinburgh-based practice landed the scheme following a design competition in 2010. The centre, arranged around a courtyard, sits to the side of a main avenue that leads to the battlefield’s hilltop monuments. It comprises exhibition spaces including a ‘Battle Room’, where an audiovisual presentation illustrate the events which took place 700 years ago this June, a café with views of the monuments, and staff offices.

In addition to the visitor centre, the project also included the conservation of the Category A-listed monuments on site - a rotunda featuring a bronze equestrian statue of Robert the Bruce, a flagpole and cairn. Site landscaping was carried out by Ian White Associates.

Model

Architect’s comment

Neil Gillespie, director, Reiach and Hall

There is no archive of surviving artefacts to act as a portal to the great battle. Robert Matthews and Eric Stephenson responded to this void by marking the site with a rotunda. They used this atavistic form, set in a carefully orchestrated landscape, to give a sense of the magnitude of the event and the thousands of lives that were lost.

In designing a visitor centre which merely serves the battlefield and the listed monuments we attempted to create a structure that was serious, almost grim, that had a certain difficulty or ambiguity of form and material. The building should on the outside present a solemn, reticent face while concealing an interior that is altogether lighter and more hospitable.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Grim? The choice of grey and black Petersen bricks and black pantiles are a bold move and will no doubt be controversial here.

    But this building is undoubtedly a work of Architecture. Intellectually satisfying on many levels, expertly considered and immaculately detailed, in my view.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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