Port Ellen Activity Centre

Posted 15 June 2019 by Bruach Architects

We recently completed a feasibility study for South Islay Development to consider the best use for the playing fields at Port Ellen. The final proposals include upgraded changing and sport facilities, a new cafe, bakery, campsite, camping “pods” and other resources to generate income for the community.

After being appointed through a competitive process we got straight to work analysing the site history and context, and of course booking a site visit to the beautiful island of Islay! Our initial site visit was a great opportunity to undertake site analysis, to see the site in use and to meet and chat with the community about their aspirations for the facility. We also visited a number of other local facilities to see the great work being done and services offered to the island community and visitors, to make sure that anything we proposed would complement the existing services on offer.

South Islay Development had conducted a lot of community consultation in advance of our appointment which provided a great bank of ideas that we refined to ensure the best solution for the most people. We worked closely with Community Links Scotland who prepared the business plan in parallel with the design development, to ensure that the final proposals will provide a sustainable financial asset for the community of South Islay, attractive to both local residents and visiting tourists.

Following an initial design phase outlining a number of key options for the site layout and facilities, we arranged a community consultation event in the Ramsay Hall on the development site, to present the proposed ideas and get feedback on the various options. This was well attended with over 70 visitors during the event, and the passion and excitement for the project was clear!

We reviewed the various comments and revised the options to a few key solutions that South Islay Development then chose from to select the final site layout and building plan. The final proposal includes a new café and sports facility building, play area, campsite with a toilet/ shower block, and camping pods in the natural rocky outcrops to maximise the use of the existing landscape.
To keep the new building footprint small, a two-storey layout was proposed with a clubroom, café and associated facilities on the ground floor and changing rooms and a gym on the first floor, accessed from the north, closer to the sports pitch. Outside the new building an open hard landscaped space was created to allow for external seating, bowling green spectators, bike storage and other community gatherings.

On the ground floor the café seating area is largely glass to permit views to the multi-sports court, bowling green, play area and beautiful beach beyond, while the roof projects out to create a shelter externally and provides solar shading. Any overheating could also be reduced by opening large doors to the south and rooflights overhead to allow air flow through the space.

The aesthetic of the built form was derived from traditional and modern architecture in Port Ellen and across Islay. It also responds to the site topography and context, to maximise on views, manage the level change between floor levels, and control solar gain. A material palette of stone, timber, glass and a shallow pitched metal roof connect with the historic vernacular and more modern distillery designs on the island.

To complete the package, Armour Construction Consultants worked with us to provide a cost plan for the proposed site and building works which (along with the business plan and drawings) will form the application sent to funders at the next stage.

We hugely enjoyed working on this exciting community project and hope that funding can be secured to let it progress onto site!

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Bruach Architects is an RIAS Chartered Practice (The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) and our architects are registered to practice using the title Architect through the Architects Registration Board (ARB). We are also Chartered Members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and our team has a combined experience of over 30 years working in the profession. Please send us an enquiry here where one of our team will be back in touch with you as soon as possible to discuss your project, and to provide additional information on the process of commissioning an architect.