Attractions industry news

04 Jun 2018

RSHP's whisky distillery and visitor centre inspired by Scottish hills opens to public

Architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners have completed a distillery and visitor experience for whisky producer The Macallan, embedded into the landscape of Scotland’s Easter Elchies Estate.

The £140m (US$187m, €160m) project, which took three and a half years to build and opened on 2 June, features an undulating, meadow-covered roof described by the Macallan as “one of the most complicated timber structures in the world”

Comprising 1,800 single beams, 2,500 different roof elements, and 380,000 individual components, almost none of which are equal or the same, was engineered by Arup.

Each junction and beam was tested in over 160 different load conditions to understand the effects of wind, snow and ice on the intricate structure.

The design of the distillery building is inspired by the ancient Scottish hills, and minimises the visual impact of the structure on the surrounding Speyside landscape – an ‘Area of Great Landscape Value’.

Natural materials such as local stone and timber – as well as the wildflower-covered roof – have been used to strengthen this concept and “provide an atmospheric journey for visitors.”

“The Macallan estate truly is a special place; a place we have come to love and respect hugely,” said Graham Stirk, senior partner and lead architect at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

“The vision was always ambitious but this enabled us to challenge our own thinking to create something so dramatic and awe-inspiring.

"We have explored the idea of being aware of something which is definitely man-made but is of the landscape.”

Companies including Atelier Bruckner, Concept Bars and Modo+ worked on the interior fit out; landscape architects Gillespies designed the planting; and lighting consultants Speirs + Major provided consultation.

Associate partner of the latter, Clementine Fletcher-Smith, said: “It's been fantastic exploring how light can be used to reveal the narrative of the product, as well as to enhance the architecture of the distillery and the visitor experience. Light has become an integral part of experiencing the whisky itself.

“Our lighting design reveals the beauty of the rare bottles, shows off the colour and movement of the precious liquid, represents the heat of the distilling process and enriches the colour of the copper stills.”

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