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Ben Lawers Visitor Plan

LocationKillin, Perthshire

ClientThe National Trust for Scotland

StatusCompleted 2013

Home to rare arctic-alpine species Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve is of national importance and afforded the highest level of protection. IWA were asked to answer the question “how should visitors be provided for on the reserve?”. The 1972 visitor centre suffered low usage and increasing maintenance costs. Interpretation was outmoded and the role of a building in providing facilities was called into question. How should the Trust balance visitor access with the protection of sensitive habitats and wild-land qualities?

Our feasibility study with Jura tourism consultants examined the options and costs for visitor facilities. We concluded that demolition of the visitor centre and reconfiguring of facilities on the hill would reduce visual impact and increase the sense of wildness.

Close collaboration with the National Trust for Scotland and an artist led to the evolution of new visitor information and interpretation facilities contained within drystone shielings. We have worked closely with the NTS Ranger Ecologist to ensure minimal impact on habitats and compatibility with reserve management objectives. The new car park have pulled back man-made features from the open lower slope of the mountain, leaving an uncluttered view from the public road. The new car park is more sheltered and visually contained, and has better path connections to the wider reserve area.

Concept sketch

Entrance to the interpretation shielings with Ben Lawers backdrop

Original mountain visitor centre

Concept sketch

Interpretation panel

Layout plan, new parking and interpretation shielings

Building in view

Car park

Mosaic laying

Walling construction

Children experiencing interpretation

Mosaic tools

Consultation event held during the design process

Concept sketch

Shieling walls with sod cope

Snow during the construction phase