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'In Pursuit of Character' | Hotel + Health Spa | Torridon

Part 2 Project 2003
Mark Simnett
Robert Gordon University Aberdeen UK
The Approach to the site is a straight road pointing at Torridon's highest peak, Ben Alligan. It is a jounery through the landscape, above and below the ground that slices through the existing terrain, framing views, opening vistas, evoking senses of anticipation, exposure, enclosure and arousing ones curiosity of the area as a whole.

The building unfolds into two strong wall elements and a ramp to an open-air pavillion that acts as the end of our journey. Visually however the reflective flooring brings nature in to this area and continues with water falling over the north edge of our rock pool and into the loch below.

The two walls seperate two very different architectural languages that demonstrate to the user the distinct metaphors used to represent the natural elements that make Torridon. On the west side, the health spa pursues timber tree like structures, using light, open spaces that playfully interact with the outside.

On the east side of the pavillion the hotel is made in spaces that appear almost to be carved out of the landscape, symbolising the permancy and solidity of some of the oldest volcanic rock in the world. A series of horizontal planes reinforce the strong line cast by the water.

The moving patterns of light cast in the communal areas portray Torridon's rapidly changing light and moods. This quality of light in relation to the weather was our strongest impression of the place and was what we sought to represent to the visitor.

Mark Simnett

Jacqueline See, Mark Simnett and Florence Ma explored the character of a spectacular site on a sea loch on the West Coast of Scotland, using photographs and innumerable models to analyse the changing light conditions and other characteristics. Out of this grew their scheme for a hotel and spa, developed along a spine with two zones with distinct characters addressing the seaward and landward orientations that exploited the specificities identified in the exploration.

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