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Case Study 7 – Culloden Battlefield Visitors Centre

Name of building
Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre
Date Completed
Building type
Culloden, near Inverness
Gareth Hoskins Architects
The National Trust for Scotland
Main contractor

Morrison Construction Scotland


The Civic Trust & Commendation RIAS Andrew Doolan Award Best Building in Scotland, Special Mention
World Architecture Festival, Culture Shortlist
The Wood Awards, Commercial & Public Access, Highly Commended
Inverness Architectural Association Awards, Open Category, Shortlisted
Glasgow Institute of Architects Awards, Winner, Leisure / Retail
RIBA Awards Regional Awards, Shortlisted
Scottish Design Awards, Finalist, Best Public Building
Scottish Design Awards, Finalist, Northern Exposure


Timber technologies

All timber was specified as being from managed sources. The building is heavily insulated and external walls are mainly clad with untreated Scottish larch from a nearby estate. Internal timber linings are made from untreated Scottish larch with all other joinery made from oiled British oak.

Stonework is either site-salvaged or Caithness stone from quarries around fifty miles away, both minimising carbon loading from transport and processing.

Special timber-related features

Timber I-beams were used as a sustainable solution for the roof. The I-beams have been engineered to provide enhanced structural performance. They are also light and easy to fix, and can be installed without the use of heavy lifting equipment.

The roof is covered with a TPO (thermoplastic polypropylene) membrane. An area of more than 1,000sqm is used as a public viewing terrace, which is covered with an intensive green roof system.

The under-floor heating is powered by a bio-fuel boiler, fed from timber from the local Forestry Commission Scotland estates. The woodchip boiler system provides space heating and hot water generation. Woodchips are supplied by the Scottish School of Forestry and harvested from sustainably managed forests within a 10km radius of the building. This should save approximately 55% of the total CO 2 output of the building.

Background to building

The building is located within a conservation area containing a number of scheduled ancient monuments. The site is extremely sensitive and of national and international significance and planning consultations involved Historic Scotland, Scottish National Heritage and the Royal Fine Arts Commission, in addition to The Highland Council, which set strict parameters for heights, views, and materials.

This new visitor centre is designed to host up to 250,000 visitors a year and includes an interpretation of the Battle of Culloden, along with educational and conference facilities, a café/restaurant, a shop, and staff and ancillary accommodation.

The centre is defined by a wave-form roof and a long wall which passes through the building and out into the landscape. Visitors can take either an interpretive journey through the exhibition, culminating in a view of the site from the planted roof, or enter the battlefield via a portal between a gently sloping berm and a memorial wall for the fallen.

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