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Dualchas reveals St Kilda visitor centre scheme

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Dualchas Architects, working with Oslo’s Reiulf Ramstad Architects (RRA), has unveiled plans for a ‘satellite’ visitor centre on the Isle of Lewis to serve the uninhabited St Kilda archipelago nearby

The Skye-based studio and the Norwegian practice have drawn up a masterplan for the facility in Mangurstadh which will provide access to St Kilda’s history without travelling to the remote island.

Images of the innovative clifftop building – which will be RRA’s first UK scheme – were revealed at a special symposium focussing on the collaborative project in Stornoway last week.

Inhabited for at least two millennia, St Kilda was evacuated in 1930 and its ruined buildings and landscape are now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Backed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Ionad Hiort – St Klida Centre in Gaelic – is intended to provide a global exemplar for ‘remote access’ to similar locations.

The stone structure – featuring a courtyard and observation platforms – will be constructed on the west coast of Lewis with views to St Kilda more than 50 miles away on the horizon.

Funding is currently being sought for the project which aims to boost regeneration on the island, interpret St Kilda’s unique story and improve access to Hebridean culture and landscape.

Masterplans focussing on Ionad Hiort’s content, by Metaphor and business plan, by Steve Westbrook were also presented at the conference inside the An Lanntair arts centre.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • The images of the site omit to show how the visitor centre would look in that setting, and the image of the buildings, shrouded in mist, plays down their scale and impact on the landscape.
    The notion of a remote visitor centre serving as a 'global exemplar' is laudable, but are Dualchas and Reiulf Ramstad being entirely open about the visual impact of their proposals on a wild and relatively remote stretch of coast?
    Hopefully The National Trust for Scotland understand what they're getting into, and aren't being swayed - with Highlands & Islands Enterprise - by the economic and cultural aspects of the project to the extent that they live to regret their choice of form of development.
    Back in 1992 the Trust lost their nerve at Inverewe Gardens, when they cancelled a project far more sympathetic to its setting at the very last minute, so I just hope that they know what they're doing at Mangersta.

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  • Good to learn that St Kilda is "nearby" the Isle of Lewis. We were on St Kilda last year and, at that time, it was 42 long miles from the Outer Hebrides. When we were midway on the crossing we couldn't see either side, so I suspect that, if the proposed new building were "to have a view of St Kilda on the horizon", it would need to be very high.

    Roy Milne

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