St Kilda centre concept design unveiled

External view of the proposed visitor centre
External view of the proposed visitor centre

A concept design on how the St Kilda visitor centre planned for the Uig area could look has been revealed.

Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter and Dualchas Architects unveiled their vision for the project, which will be located at a clifftop site at Geodha Sgoilt, Uig.

The thinking behind the design is to convey the drama and exposure of St Kilda without having to visit the famously remote archipelago.

According to Reiulf Ramstad, design director and founder of RRA, the project is inspired not just by St Kilda, but by the landscape and environment of Geodha Sgoilt.

“One of the first things you notice on the site is the wind – it is incredibly exposed. You are also aware of the power of the Atlantic crashing against the dramatic cliffs and stacks.

“The masterplan invites the visitor to experience this strong force of nature , but also to carefully consider how the incredible story of St Kilda can be told in a powerful and coherent way within the design of the building and the exhibition.”

Together Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter and Dualchas Architects won the architectural masterplan competition earlier in the year.

The inspiration behind the project is the idea that the story of an abandoned community could help an existing fragile community survive.

By building a world-class facility that is both a visitor attraction and research centre, the community hope to reverse the population decline they have been suffering, and use the centre as a catalyst for economic development.

This, presents a special opportunity, believes Dualchas director Neil Stephen: “High quality architecture can be an economic generator in remote rural communities- something both RRA and Dualchas have been committed to in rural Norway and the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

“This can only happen if there is ambition and vision, which the community of Uig have in abundance – which is why this project is both exciting and important.”

The architects have been working closely with the exhibition designers Metaphor on developing the design that can tell the extraordinary story of St Kilda.

Iain Buchanan, chairman of Ionad Hiort, said: “This is not just a local project but one which has at its centre a very special place and has significance which is local, national and international.

“It can be a transformational project for a very fragile community and bring economic benefit to the Western Isles as a whole.

“It will only succeed if it is a world-class facility, as a visitor attraction and as a research centre for the study of remote communities and the challenges they face.”

Mr Buchanan stressed that the design of the centre itself is still at an early stage, he added: “The architects have given us a lot of food for thought with their vision of how the site could be developed.

“However, these are not the plans for the centre. Before we get to that stage, there will be a competitive tendering process and extensive consultation.”