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Bell Ingram completes cliff-top bird observation shelter

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[First look + plans + project data] Bell Ingram Design has completed this ‘Neolithic’ £98,000 bird observation shelter on the side of a cliff near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

The project at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland’s (RSPB) Fowlsheugh nature reserve was funded by and created in memory of a local couple and was built using stone from Denfind quarry in Angus.

Practice director and architect Iain Cram, who managed the project, said: ‘We set out to create a space for contemplation not a hide for hardened bird spotters. We wanted somewhere for people to admire the view in a calm atmosphere.

He added: “It was a very different brief to what we’re used to from RSPB Scotland, as it centred around the wishes of George and Moyra Anderson, who funded the project.

‘They used to enjoy coming here to sit on a bench and walk along the cliffs and our instructions were to allow people to enjoy the views that they enjoyed, even if it was raining, and so this is what we have tried to achieve.’

According to the Scottish practice, the word Fowlsheugh comes from the Gaelic for ‘bird cliff’ and between mid-April to July more than 130,000 seabirds – fulmars, kittiwakes, razorbills, herring gulls and puffins – will nest on the cliffs.

Simon Busuttil, East Scotland Reserves manager, said: ‘The shelter is built to nestle into the ground. The roof is a sedum mat that we hope over time will self-seed with local grasses so that the shelter disappears into the landscape. It’ll take a few winters to weather in and lose its’ new freshness but after that we hope it will take on an almost Neolithic feel.’

Project data

Architects: Bell Ingram Design
Location: Fowlsheugh Nature Reserve
Type Of Project:  Public/Recreational
Structural Engineers: David Scott Design
Project Architect: Iain Cram
Design Team: Bruce Stephens, Euan Wright,
Client:  Royal Society for the Protection of Bird
Funding:  Private Donation
Tender date: October 2010
Start on site date: December 2010
Contract duration: 5 Months
Gross internal floor area: 14m²
Form of contract and/or procurement: SBCC Minor Works with Contractor’s Design
Total cost: £98,000         
M&e consultant: N/A
Quantity surveyor: Christie & Partners
Planning supervisor: John MacCallum
Lighting consultant: N/A
Main contractor: Pert-Bruce Construction
Selected subcontractors and suppliers: N/A
Annual co2 emissions: Zero

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