Innovation, Architecture & Design
Visit Scotland has officially designated 2016 as the year of innovation, architecture and design. A year to celebrate all the fantastic built environment and technological history that Scotland has to offer. One of the highlights of the 2016 programme will be the year-long Festival of Architecture. Primarily based in Edinburgh this will feature, exhibitions, competitions, lectures, art projects and film screenings. One of the most tongue in cheek events will be the Ideal Hut Show, where 20 leading architects, designers and celebrities from Scotland each take a standard model garden shed to transform and customise. The sheds will then travel round the country.
For a complete day of architectural inspiration you could stay at The Secret Cottage in Fife. This modern conversion of a traditional building has won a Green Apple Built Environment Award for its stunning use of the original window openings combined with its specially designed glass atrium which floods the property with light. From here you could jump on the train to Edinburgh, which crosses the iconic Forth Rail Bridge, from where you can also see the new Queensferry Crossing due to open late 2016. On arrival at what is referred to as “The Athens of the North” you will find no shortage of classic and modern architecture to inspire you, from the National Museum to the new Scottish Parliament Building.
For a complete contrast then you could head to the Western Isles, the home of Harris Tweed. Crofters here still hand produce the world famous fabric in the traditional manner. The fabric itself is now protected by an act of parliament and is exported around the world. It is possible to visit a working mill as well as well as a number of outlets where you can see its diverse uses, from old fashioned formal suits to iPhone covers. During the summer An Lanntair in Stornoway will be the venue for Clo Mor, a festival of Harris Tweed that will showcase world class designers. There will also be a photography exhibition, film screenings, demonstrations, talks and tours.
Oran na Mara would be a fitting place to stay when on your Harris Tweed pilgrimage, not only is it in a stunning location overlooking Scarista Beach it is also decorated throughout with the best examples of this locally made fabric. This newly completed building is one of the most architecturally ambitious in the Hebrides and takes the form of a traditional thatched cottage bent into a wave. The award winning design has featured in countless newspaper articles and was recently on the cover of Coast magazine.
St Peter’s House in Gullane is a stunning conversion of a former church. This is a Grade A listed building that features ornate stained glass windows in addition to a host of original features incorporated into the open plan renovation. From here you could easily visit some of the central belts most intriguing and artistic attractions, the gardens of Little Sparta in the Pentland Hills created by artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay and the internationally renowned Kelpies sculptures which stand at over 30 metres high beside the Forth and Clyde Canal just outside of Falkirk.
The North Coast 500 route around the Highlands has been a huge hit since its inception last year. To build on its success and to tie in with the Visit Scotland campaign a new guide will be published detailing the architecture you can see on your way round. One of the quirky and hidden highlights that is typical of the highlands is The Hermit’s Castle. This is supposedly the smallest castle in Europe and was built near the beach at Achmelvich in the 1950s by an architect who only ever spent one night in it before disappearing. Hikers still use it as a bothy but if the austerity of bare concrete walls, a single bedroom and no toilet does not appeal then take a look at Seahorses. This stunning property is in an equally majestic setting just further up the coast, but sleeps 6 in modern comfort.
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