Aberfoyle Research Pavilions
Ferguson Mc Ilveen Architects
- Award Type:
Best Building in the Landscape 2002
- Location: Ulster
Northern (over €300,000)
Set into, rather than onto, a difficult landscape, these pavilions emerge from sloping ground with roof pitch and plan shape revealing two elegant prows. Their sharp unflinching modern design creates a contrast and counterpoint to their surroundings to the benefit of both buildings and environment.
The pavilions are two identical triangular-shaped buildings built into a steeply sloping, wooded site.
The side base of their plans is anchored at the high end of each site to provide access to the buildings, including level wheelchair access, from the existing Estate road – the buildings appearing at this point as single storey pavilions. As the buildings emerge from the sloping ground, the pitch of their roofs works against the falling topography whilst their tapering plans minimise the overall massing and the extent of tree clearing required; only a pointed prow protrudes from among the crown of trees.
Internally, the two floors of each building are virtually identical. Cellular accommodation to the rear oversees the main open plan area, which occupies the full, truly triangular space to the front. The curtain wall glazing on both levels provides generous views of the surrounding trees and further afield, while long horizontal windows in the walls at floor and eye level allow panoramic glimpses of the outside for those seated at their desks. Externally, the buildings are finished with silver cladding panels and silver framed curtain walling. Despite their size, these silver wedges can only be glimpsed through the trees. They are entered from sunken forecourts defined by retaining walls of stone-filled gabions. The buildings are set below the historic Aberfoyle House; subservient in their altitude but visually unashamedly modern in contrast.
The brief dictated that there should be two distinctive, modern buildings to attract innovative, hi-tech companies, but not obtrusive, necessitating the removal of as few trees and shrubs as possible. This was a tall order on a challenging, wooded site with a 45° slope.
This essential element of the brief has been a stunning success. The triangular buildings ‘dwell’ amongst the trees and indeed look as if they have been constructed in the very trees themselves. The siting and orientation of the buildings in the landscape exploits the wonderful topography and views of the rest of the site. This is perhaps the greatest strength of the buildings and the greatest achievement of the Architects.
Notwithstanding the limitations of the budget, the buildings provided an extremely pleasant, even exciting, working environment where from inside the panoramic vista is ever present.
The design of the building is such that two different companies can operate totally independently on separate floors whilst sharing toilet and conference facilities only. The buildings are deliberately sparse and free from clutter. This, together with a suspended computer floor, makes for a very flexible space ideally suited to the changing needs of an IT tenant.
Mike Attwood, Estates Manager