In 2008, after many years as a traditional deer stalking estate, Dundreggan, a 10,000-acre expanse between Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye, was purchased by Trees for Life. This charity has since focussed on rewilding Dundreggan by restoring its share of the ancient Caledonian Forest to create the world’s first Rewilding Visitor Centre.
Our response to the brief was to design a building and landscape inspired by the estate and the local Gaelic heritage. The facility includes an arrival orientation space, café/restaurant, multi-use lecture/ classroom facilities, library, ‘story cave’, adventure playground and dipping pond.
The building is positioned to minimise its impact on the natural features of the landscape, and is oriented to harvest as much solar energy as possible and to capture the surrounding views. The structure and envelope are informed by timber technology and our research into the sustainable circular economy. The unique sculptured rust-coloured roof is inspired by the forest canopy, the walls are clad in Scottish larch, and ‘tree trunk’ colonnades enclose the external spaces. Internally the diverse character of active and quiet spaces is enhanced by the use of different timber finishes and expressions of natural light from above.
We are confident that the Centre will fulfil its primary role as a welcoming gateway to a world that orients and educates the visitors as they weave their way through the site, the building and the wider network of paths.