Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre

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Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre

Introduction The new Culloden Battlefield Memorial Centre was the result of an international design competition held by the National Trust for Scotland in 2004. The virtually untouched site of the last battle fought on British soil, in which King George II’s Government Troops defeated the last Jacobite uprising under Bonnie Prince Charles in 1746, is of major historical significance. The project, which includes the reinterpretation and reinstatement of the landscape of the battlefield, was designed by Gareth Hoskins Architects in collaboration with exhibition designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates, with input from a wide range of historians and archaeologists. Purpose of project The new building is three times the size of the existing facilities it replaces and is designed for up to 250,000 visitors a year, housing interpretation of the battle along with edu¬cational and conference facilities, a 240 cover café and restaurant, a shop and staff/ancillary accommodation. Design approach The new centre and landscape routes were designed to be fully accessible in line with the National Trust for Scotland’s access policy. The building is located within a conservation area containing a number of scheduled ancient monuments. The site is extremely sensitive and of national and international significance; therefore planning consultations involved Historic Scotland, Scottish National Heritage, Royal Fine Arts Commission as well as The Highland Council which set strict parameters for heights, views, and materials. Whilst the existing visitor centre was built on archaeologically sensitive ground the new centre is moved away from the bat¬tlefield lines, ensuring that the new building’s location would not disturb graves or artefacts. The new building is anchored between an existing field wall and a new gently rising berm which is aligned to the rearmost government lines, screening visitor traffic from the battlefield and delivering visitors onto a planted roof terrace for a unique view of the site. The building and berm act as a portal to the site, allowing the visitor the choice of a stay under the scalloped roofs of the restaurant before or after an interpretive journey through the exhibition with views out to the landscape at key points culminating on the roof terrace. When the centre is closed the site can be accessed via the portal formed by the bridge to the roof, passing the memorial wall which offers a visual interpretation of the historic site and its status of a war grave and burial ground for over 1200 soldiers. Reasons for method of construction The building is constructed in steel frame with concrete floor slab and highly insulated timber walls and roofs. Apart from the poured concrete floors and foundations, the structure is completely demountable. All timber was specified as being from managed sources. External walls are mainly clad with untreated Scottish Larch from a nearby estate; other areas are clad with local Caithness Stone and field stones salvaged from the site. Internal timber linings are made from untreated Scottish Larch with all other joinery made from oiled British Oak. Large internal and external floor areas are covered with local Caithness flag¬stones, both minimizing carbon loading from transport and processing. The roof is a covered with a recyclable TPO membrane. More than 1000sqm are used as a public viewing terrace and are covered with an intensive green roof system. The building has a small surface:area ratio to minimize heat loss. Orientation and roof form are manipulated to maximize glare free daylight and natural ventilation. At the restaurants, kitchen and education room, the curved roofs distribute north east light evenly via clerestorey windows. The curved roofs form an overhang to the south east glazed terraces for shading and shelter. A long north facing clerestorey to the orientation and interpretation areas allows glare free lighting to these areas. The challenge of the Interpretation Area was to design a naturally ventilated building that could respond to extremely high visitor loads during summer high season. A passive ventilation system was developed, combining opening windows and low-level vents, with high-level ventilation via parapets and roof cowls. The system is generally wind-driven, orientated towards the battlefield and prevailing winds. Low speed plate fans, concealed within the roof cowls, provide increased airflow for extreme conditions e.g. high visitor numbers on a still summer day. The building is constructed as a lightweight, high response timber/steel envelope on a massive insulated stone/concrete floor incorporating under floor heating. Thermal mass evens out temperature swings for the 12+ hour daily useage and the thermally responsive shell adjusts quickly to occupation. The construction included above Regulation levels of thermal insulation. The intensive green roof over the interpretation area also contributes some thermal insulation and mass to the fabric of this element. A fully automated woodchip boiler system provides space heating and hot water generation. Woodchips are supplied by the Scottish School of Forestry – harvested from sustainably managed forest within a 10km radius of the building - and should save approximately 55% of the total CO2 output of the building. Public and staff areas are lit by high efficiency lighting with automatic lighting controls. Specialist lighting in the exhibition includes less efficient halogen lamps to minimise UV damage to artefacts on display, and provide excellent colour rendering. But these lights are dimmed to very low lux levels (less than 50 lux) – reducing energy consumption in line with the rest of the lighting strategy. Low flush toilets, infrared controlled urinals and water saving taps are used throughout the building. Waste water is processed in a modern aerated water treatment plant. The tanks are entirely concealed below ground.


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