Following a design competition in 2010 Reiach and Hall Architects were appointed by the National Trust for Scotland in collaboration with Historic Scotland, for the design of a new visitor facility at one of Scotland’s most historic sites, The Battle of Bannockburn, near Stirling.
The overall project consisted of four distinct yet complimentary parts: significant conservation work to the category A listed monuments, including the Rotunda, the magnificent bronze Equestrian Statue, the Flagpole and the Cairn carried out by Reiach and Hall Architects; improvements to the overall landscape of the site and landscape works associated with the new visitor centre carried out by Ian White Associates; a new visitor centre by Reiach and Hall Architects and a radical dramatic interpretation of the Battle carried out by Brightwhite Ltd.
The project was scheduled for completion in time for the commemoration of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 2014.
The role of the visitor centre is concerned with increasing the understanding of two fundamental issues, landscape and its part in the victory and the telling of a remarkable story. The new landscape design and the design of the new building attempt to give a sense of discreet dignity to this historic battlefield through simple and durable forms and materials. The drama of the story however has been retold through ground breaking digital technology allied to exhaustive historical research and incorporating an exhibition and audio-visual presentation that illustrate the battlefield events of June 1314, when King Robert the Bruce routed the forces of King Edward II to win freedom for the Scots from English domination.
The new building sits quietly to the side of the main avenue approach that links the entrance off the Glasgow Road to the hill top monuments with their open prospect over the battlefield to Stirling Castle, the Ochils and the North.
The building proposals imagine a simple ensemble of resonant and evocative forms. The exterior has been designed to suggest traditional building forms and materials yet rendered unfamiliar and ambivalent through their finish and detail. The external facades are textured and patterned in the manner of cloth or chainmail. On entering the almost austere form gives way to light filled airy interiors.
The new building offers the visitor two things, hospitality and information. A courtyard or steading form symbolises shelter and hospitality through the creation of an enclosed place; a clearly defined defensible space that captures the sun and protects from the wind. To the south of the courtyard lie all the service spaces, toilets, stores, kitchen, offices, all vital to the efficient running of the centre. To the west lies the café with views to the monuments and to the east the shop and entrance reception.
To the North of the courtyard lies a generous Hall along with Prologue and Epilogue spaces that offer simple flexible vessels for the interpretive installations and exhibition spaces.
Design Team: Reiach and Hall Architects: Architect Ian White Associates; Landscape Architects: Landscape Architect SKM: Structural Engineer KJ Tait Engineers: M&E Engineer Turner and Townsend: Quantity Surveyor Turner and Townsend: CDMC Andrew PK Wright with Reiach and Hall Architects:Conservation Architect New Acoustics: Acoustician Foto ma (with Mike Stoane Lighting): Lighting Design Bright White Ltd: Exhibition Design Mansell Construction Services Ltd: Main Contractor