Dossier 2: Site & Observation
While researching architectural languages and proportional systems, the unit was also asked to test and develop methods for observation, recording and description, following three intital terms:
- People: the people who inhabit the immediate environment – those who live there, and those who come into it temporarily, such as rubbish collectors, tourists, postal workers.
- Weather: light conditions, humidity, pollution, air movement, air pressure
- Sound: typical soundscapes at different times of the day and week.
This began with observing our homes and their immediate surroundings, before applying our methods to settlements at Kirkton, Aird, Craobh Haven and Lunga on the Craignish Peninsula, and to Shatwell Farm and sites in Lisbon and Évora.
Students produced observations through a variety of methods and mediums ranging from sound and video recording to sketches, collage and image making.
Understanding and speech are always based on already existing patterns. By studying these existing patterns, we see the connections between people and places and between people and things; memory helps us to understand the world. (Brigitte Fleck and Gunter Pfeifer, Type and Typos, 2013)
The Craignish Peninsula is situated on the west coast of Scotland, and is a part of the Inner Hebrides archipelago, which famous for its mountainous islands, breathtaking landscapes and rich mythical history. The site at Druim Loisgte sits near the farming hamlet of Aird, located on the southern point of the peninsula, and benefits from uninterrupted views to the surrounding islands of Scarba and Jura. Two distinct ridges give this site a lively topography.
Down toward the water a stone waiting room ruin looks out onto the Sound of Jura waterway, with the Island of Jura in the background. It was the point in their journey at which drovers from Jura landed with their cattle to make their way across the peninsula to markets in Crieff and Falkirk. The pier there seemed like it had been shortened by something. The waters beyond are home to a legendary whirlpool ‘Corryvrecken’, capable of destroying ships and drowning sailors.
Kirkton Steadings are two derelict farm buildings on the east coast of Craignish located south of Ardfern. Behind these steadings are the ruins of a 13th century chapel, now a historic monument of Scotland. The first of the steadings consists of two cottages with a newly added corrugated roof and a ruin with no roof at all. Each one of these have large perforations where the windows and doors would once have been. The second building is one large barn-like structure that has stone partition walls on the inside and a decaying corrugated steel roof that has gained a beautiful red colour over many winters of weathering. Both structures are nestled into the landscape and have views over Loch Craignish.
The site chosen for the project is on the road between the Lunga Estate, a historic settlement with a 16th century castle, and Craobh Haven (pronounced ‘Croove’) down the west coast of the peninsula. Craobh Haven is a modern holiday settlement with few permanent residents. It is a pastiche of coastal housing, built for holidaymakers and the boat owners who use the marina.
The site is roughly rectangular, consisting of two 100m x 100m squares. It is defined by a dense grove of trees on the north and west edges that shelter the open space from the prevailing westerly wind coming in from the sea. The clearing is a distinct geometric subtraction from a previous organic shape. The road leading into the Lunga Estate runs along the eastern edge of the site, and is lined by a row of thin trees. On the opposite side of the road is a steep planted slope which rises up 80m toward the interior of the peninsula to make an exposed plateau. The land beneath the trees on the west side of the site slope down toward the water. There is a cresent-shaped beach, Bàch an Tigh-Stòir, or Warehouse Bay. The site acts as a small reprieve between these two level changes : beach to plain : plain to plateau. The site does has a small incline that drops from the north east to the south west: 18m over 225m roughly 1:12.5 much shallower than the rise to the interior plateau – 1:3.This is not a uniform slope as the site is flatter at the north and more steep in the south west where a spring is shown to be. There are three (N, W, E) rigid edges to the site. The fourth boundary to the south is less well defined.