Wester Ross Visitor Information Shelters
Competition, 2016

Designing the 3 visitor Information shelters for Wester Ross implied creating a simple architecture that could be naturally integrated with this most beautiful surrounding landscape, but one that could provide to be at the same time a landmark for the visitors and passers‐by. It should not only provide shelter for people wanting to consult maps and information, but it should also aim at providing a “place”: a comfortable and cosy space where people are invited to sit and relax before continuing their travel through this beautiful region; a travel that should not contemplate speed, rushing from one point to another, but should be a slow travelling, taking the time to “see around” and to contemplate the stunning beauty of the Landscape.

Our Proposal for the 3 Visitor Information Shelters its originated from a very simple and recognizable shape, the roof, and refers to the tradition of the small architectures dotting the landscape such as chapels, milestones… The roof, a traditional cedar shingles roof, becomes here a landmark for visitors which integrates and merges naturally with the surrounding landscape. Wester Ross is one of the few parts of Scotland where we can still find the old Caledonian forest, and the design also makes reference to the elegant shape of the Caledonian pine trees. Although all the shelters are clearly originated by the same design concept, for each location we have determined the shape of the Architecture from the specific characteristics of the site and context. The Lochcarron shelter is open to frame a view of the landscape while still of course providing shelter form the wheatear. The design for Achnasheen offers a greater permeability as it needs to function also as bus stop and connects to the train station as well. Finally, the Braemore shelter is larger and offers more seating and a wider table inviting visitors to stop and seat to spend some time relaxing immersed in the beautiful nature.
The orientation table with integrated documentation supports and information maps, is located at the centre of the shelter and can be used by visitors also as a table for having their packed lunch or a coffee or to simply rest and having a relaxing chat during their travel.

The shelters are almost entirely made out of timber, except for the concrete benches that also serve as the foundation for the structure fixing it to the ground providing the necessary stability and robustness. The structural frame is a simple construction not dissimilar to any timber roof found in many traditional houses in Scotland. The typical cedar shingles cover almost the entirety of the roof with few glass tiles dotting the surface of the Architecture and creating a soft and elegant lighting effect. Finally, a glazed oculus at the top of each shelter provides a nice zenithal light which will change through the course of theday increasing the sense of “being in the nature” and the integration of the architecture and its surroundings. The materials chosen for these small architectures have been selected for their ability to age naturally and beautifully through the time providing both basic maintenance requirements, and their ability to “change” through the time and to adapt and become more and more integrated with the nature as the times goes.

Maurizio Mucciola, Maria-Chiara Piccinelli, Bertrand Robuchon.