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Case Study 13 – The Robert Burns Museum

Name of building
The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Date Completed
2010 (under construction)
Building type
Alloway, Ayrshire
Simpson & Brown Architects
The National Trust for Scotland
Main contractor

Carpenter Oak & Woodland


Timber technologies

Timber is used throughout the building, with only the junctions between columns, beams and walls being strengthened with steel brackets.

The green Douglas fir structure used in the reception hall and café was grown in Thirlmere and Braithwaite in the Lake District, and cut and machined into shape near Kirriemuir in Angus. The structure of the rest of the building is of European redwood.

The windows and timber louvres are redwood and European oak manufactured nearby in Kilmarnock. The external cladding is Scottish larch treated naturally with linseed oil.

Special timber-related features

The sustainable agenda for the new museum is achieved through the design of passive architectural systems, carefully integrating technology, and the use of passive solar gain and natural ventilation. This is also enforced by maximizing the use of local and natural materials with the use of Scottish Douglas fir and larch for structure and the cladding.

The sustainable use of timber is continued in the surrounding external space where timber palisade fences are constructed using untreated timber from site clearance, including western red cedar, silver fir, grand fir, Scots pine, goat willow and ash.

Background to building

The new Robert Burns Museum has been designed to be a landmark building, and a welcoming portal for the Robert Burns National Heritage Park as a whole.

It takes advantage of the strategic infrastructure and beautiful gardens of the existing Tam O’Shanter Experience while promoting the other aspects of the park, especially Robert Burns’ Birthplace: the Cottage.

The building has elegant curving and interlocking sedum covered roofs, supported by a green Douglas fir frame and timber panels. This will shelter a large exhibition space celebrating the life and works of the national bard, and a public space opening up to the mature garden.

European Larch is a hard strong timber with an attractive warm reddish brown or terracotta colour with gold streaks, which fades to silver after prolonged

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