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Case study

Scenic Routes

Dìon - ‘shelter’ Innsidh na geòidh as t-fhoghar e - ‘all will be revealed in due course’

Falls of Falloch
Green/blue Infrastructure


Dìon seeks to emphasise and embellish what is naturally magnificent about this place.  The proverb encapsulates the visitor experience to the Falls of Falloch, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.  The secluded site, hidden in the woods from the nearby road, naturally lends itself to a journey, culminating in the dramatic views of the waterfalls.


Tourist Route

Our competition submission for the second chapter of the Scenic Routes Initiative program, is based at the Falls of Falloch, off the A82 north of Loch Lomond.  The site has been chosen for its unique scenic qualities and location on a key tourist route. 

View across from the West Highland Way


This is the second Scenic Routes project with which HarrisonStevens have an involvement, the other being the Laggan Locks, Caledonian Canal. To the rear of the main shelter is a new timber screen, the visitor is lured through the woods from the car park by their curiosity as to what this strange intervention might be. The screen compliments the woodland vegetation in hiding the falls from the visitor approach.  As the visitor gets closer, the considered screen angles and heights open out to give glimpsed views, not only to the falls themselves, but to the plunge pool and surrounding enclosure, heightening suspense and the need to get to the final destination and what will be revealed.

Upon arriving at a fully accessible deck/terrace, the visitor is now presented with a choice; to enter a room at this level or descend down to a lower level. this is a key design consideration, giving a multi-level human experience of the place. On approaching the Falls from the east, the shelter acts as a folly in the landscape, enticing visitors off the West Highland Way - the incidental visitor.


Contrasting Enclosed Experience

The main room in the shelter has two panoramic sections cut from its face giving framed views, at two different levels, on to the stunning falls, in the sanctuary of a roofed space, allowing the view, atmosphere, and sounds to be enjoyed and appreciated no matter the elements of the day.

The lower room aims to immerse the visitor in the place. a metal grid is inserted in to the timber structure here, allowing the visitor to see through to the water beneath their feet and the rocks enclosing them. The sounds of the falling water and woodland will reverberate in and out of the column, material texture varies and smells are channelled, stimulating all the senses. Small incisions are made in the cladding around the column, allowing natural light and shadow to play through the structure.


Robust and Enduring

The geometric form of the shelter is strong and robust, and the proposed use of recycled timbers in the construction promotes and integrates sustainability. The varied nature of available recycled timber for the shelter cladding, and how this weathers, will give a textured exterior appearance. The entire structure is modular in nature, with each element interpreted in different forms and minimising the need for singular cuts of materials.

Scenic Routes

The Scottish Scenic Routes Initiative

The Scottish Scenic Routes Initiative was launched in June 2013 by Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment in the Scottish Government.

The aims of the initiative include to:-

enhance the visitor experience of Scotland’s landscape: by creating innovatively designed viewpoints in selected locations in areas of outstanding scenery;

enhance and sustain rural economies and rural employment:  by integrating visitor strategies with infrastructure programmes that will help support tourism;

attract private sector investment in the tourism industry: and

harness our design talent: by providing a means whereby we can connect our design talent to enterprising opportunities – in particular, to support newly graduated or recently qualified architects.

Inspired by the National Tourist Routes programme in Norway, the Scottish Scenic Routes initiative will seek to develop our own uniquely Scottish model to enhance, promote and develop our international appeal and reputation.  Whilst a National Strategy is being developed, a series of pilot projects are being undertaken to test the ideas behind the initiative.

Further information

Competition Entry

Our competition entry for the Scenic Routes project, March 2015.