Gaia Architects

design excellence providing access and conservation

Glencoe Visitor Centre

Client: National Trust for Scotland, 1993-2002

The brief from the National Trust for Scotland required a visitor centre that took account of the sensitivity of the local landscape and local population to visitor pressure, and specifically to meet the co-requirements on the Trust to provide 'access' and 'conservation'.

Gaia's approach was to design and locate the building such that it had the lightest footprint it was possible to have in Glencoe. It minimises adverse impacts of the many visitors while maximising their appreciation and understanding of this sensitive area. The proposal involved removing an inappropriately sited existing visitor centre and returning the area to its natural state.


The project went through many iterations over a 10 year procurement period and Gaia's design evolved with the landscape, but the concept of a design in the vernacular form of a Clachan remained robust throughout. The facilities comprise a group of well-insulated buildings that are domestic in scale, sitting low in the landscape and using materials chosen for their environmental sensitivity.


The whole Centre was constructed from untreated Scottish timber appropriately detailed. It became a showcase for Scottish timber with external doors and windows and the internal floors manufactured locally from untreated Scottish oak, doors from a variety of hardwoods and locally sourced bio-fuel for heating.


Completed and opened in 2003 it is still regarded by many as the greenest building in Scotland. It has received many awards.


The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors -International Sustainability Award 2003

Dynamic Places Award 2002

Visit Scotland - Green Tourism Award 2002

Edinburgh Architectural - Association Sustainability Award 2002

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