Speculative project proposing a new infrastructure and associated buildings for the reintegration of slate quarrying on the Isle of Kerrera, Western Scotland, to produce roofing tiles for the surrounding area of Oban.
Slate quarrying is a cultivation which has a vast impact on the landscape. This project is interested in harnessing the beauty and architectural qualities behind this industrial process; instead of quarrying being associated with an invasive scale, a tactile and experiential element is introduced. As well as industrial buildings, it incorporates a human element – an on foot route through the whole site – for people to experience the intriguing and beautiful procedures behind the manufacture of an everyday object.
The design unit, called Drawing Energy, emphasized the importance of drawing within the creative process. Drawings of the movements of machinery and processes required for this cultivation became influential for the design of the landscape infrastructure.
The project considers the hierarchy of the process of quarrying important: the progressive refinement of the stone from a raw material within the landscape, to a refined product ready for export. This became the organisation strategy, named the Axis of Refinement, which contains all the infrastructure and buildings needed for the operation. The architectural language of each element along the axis exploits the poeticism of the procedure, using appropriate building methods to reflect it.
This project was done in collaboration with Maria Esteban Casañas, together designing the strategy and each of us focusing on individual buildings within the landscape.
I created a building which registers the change on the landscape over time, and creates moments of respite for the workers as well as storing machinery. The building has a monolithic concrete core, holding service space for the employees – kitchen, showers, etc – and shed like volumes to store and service the machinery. All the service pipes and fittings for the respite space are exposed and expressed within the sheds that surround it.