Design company appointed to advise on St Kilda Centre

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In the latest milestone for the development of a St Kilda Centre – Ionad Hiort – in the Uig area of Lewis, one of Britain’s leading creative design companies has been appointed to a major consultancy role.

Metaphor, who enjoy a worldwide reputation for developing visitor destinations and cultural projects, came through a highly competitive tendering process to win the HIE-funded brief to advise on the design and contents of the proposed centre.

They will now work closely with the local group, which has been taking the Ionad Hiort project forward to bring it to the point at which funding applications can be made.

Their team includes master-planners, designers, multi-media experts and architects.

Rachel Morris of Metaphor said they were delighted to have been appointed, and described the cliff-top site identified for the centre as “astonishing”, offering “a major opportunity to create a world-class centre grounded in a universal story”.

The Metaphor team was in Uig at the weekend for the first time since being appointed and will engage closely with the local community.

HIE’s manager for Innse Gall (the Western Isles), Rachel MacKenzie, said: “The proposals received were of a high standard and the appointment of Metaphor by Ionad Hiort ensures that the creation of a unique visitor experience which reflects the cultural and historic significance of St Kilda is one step closer”.

The chairman of Ionad Hiort, Iain Buchanan, said: ‘We are now working with an absolutely outstanding creative team who will help us articulate the vision behind Ionad Hiort and ensure that it becomes a massive asset not just for Uig but for Lewis and the Western Isles as a whole.

“We are particularly appreciative of HIE’s continued commitment to this project in recognition of its economic and social significance. Their support for these consultancy stages has allowed us to benefit from the input of world-leading experts who share our belief in the significance of Ionad Hiort”.

Metaphor will build on the consultancy report commissioned from James Rebanks, the author and specialist in UNESCO World Heritage sites, who gave strong backing to the concept of Ionad Hiort and made recommendations on how it could be established on a sustainable basis.

The choice of the Uig site, at Geodh Sgoilt, emerged from a competition to find the best proposal from within the Western Isles for the establishment of a St Kilda Centre.

This process was supported by HIE, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Visit Scotland, Historic Scotland, the National Gaelic Arts Agency and the National Trust for Scotland.

Alasdair MacLeod, chairman of Sustainable Development for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “I very much welcome this appointment which is an important project development milestone. The Comhairle looks forward to engaging with Metaphor and will continue to support the development of Ionad Hiort.”