Atlantic Islands Centre, Cullipool, Isle Of Luing

We were commissioned by the Isle of Luing Community Trust to design a home for the Luing History Group combined with a flexible exhibition area, gallery, work spaces, a café/restaurant, and a shop selling local crafts.

The IoLCT was keen to reflect the historic nature of the site while at the same time providing modern flexible facilities. Dramatically perched on the edge of one of the flooded quarries on the site of the former Engine House in Cullipool village, the new building reflects the scale and character of the original quarry building and the nearby houses.

The original engine shed was a large hipped roofed building housing steam engines used in the working of the slate quarry. Large gantries, decks and cranes were built round the building that had a massive chimney towering well above the roof.

The external appearance of exhibition/café area reflects the form of the old engine shed with a hipped slate roof and thick stone walls reclaimed from the ruin of the original building, while the work spaces and gallery have a simple linear form with white rendered walls and slate roof to echo the quarry cottages of the conservation area.

The glazed south west corner holds the café/restaurant, brings natural light into the building and allows spectacular vies of the surrounding land and seascape.

The original shed had a large dormer to the south through which engines drove pulleys and platforms; this feature has been included giving panoramic views of Scarba and the Garvellachs including Belnahua.

The original lighthouse lamp from Belnahua sits in the entrance area. A full height glazed panel connects the visitor directly to the quarry, as do the directional slit windows in the exhibition space.

External pathways, the café terrace and boundary walls are built of reclaimed local slate. The quarry pond also serves as the heat source for the heat pump providing underfloor heating and hot water. High levels of insulation and low energy lighting are features that will ensure low running costs.

The result of many years research and planning, the Atlantic Island Centre will make a major contribution to the regeneration of the fragile island community.

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