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Glenluce Music Retreat: explorations in music and society

Part 1 Project 2009
Jake Wybranski
Mackintosh School of Architecture, UK
Glenluce is a blustery valley on the edge of the Galloway forest in Dumfries & Galloway. In the sight of a Cistercian Abbey ruin, a tower house and fine windswept scenery, the location is an inspiring and quiet corner of south-west Scotland; where the rigours of life can be left behind and a purifying way of life can refresh the stagnation of the 21st century citizen. Glenluce Tower musical retreat is a scheme, which architecturally embraces the issues of sustainability, locality, communal life and creative spirit in one enclave of rich experience.
The tower stands within the context of the two other prominent vertical landmarks in Glenluce, and through its respect of the traditional forms and layers of the local landscape, enhances the sense of place and, as working with such existing heritage creates a greater sense of belonging and timelessness, this sets the retreat apart from the fashions, greed, & anonymity of the relentless inhuman globalised society of modern Britain.
The natural resources of the location are utilised to great effect to provide water & power for the retreat and the sites space used to offset food and wood consumption, enhancing the retreats self sustaining requirements. Efficient heating systems and building technologies work with a passively designed layout to greatly reduce environmentally damaging consumption of energy.
To maintain the dignity and timelessness of the retreat, existing traditional and unremarkable idioms are employed; stone walls, orchards, gardens, to bring the enclave into the working heritage of the landscape, to complement an architectural conglomeration, in which a unique, atmospheric and interesting set of architectural solutions are achieved by embracing environmental, economic, communal, and historical ambitions.
As an architect I have tried to imbue the place with a rich and vibrant sense of musicality and artistry, but I have left my visuals ethereal and empty - for as a musician it is only the visceral vibrations and human expression that could bring to life those spaces – which, ripe for creativity, silently await their inhabitation

Jake Wybranski

The design of an ‘off grid’ Musical retreat in rural Dumfries & Galloway allowed Jake to explore various aspects of music and notions of society. He considers the potential of architecture as both a means of environmental protection and as a manifestation of community, expressing the presence of the individual and the collective.
Jake’s approach considered the careful placement of a third element in this stunning landscape, and his tower proposal is complex and ingenious. The sleeping cells interlock vertically around a spiralling stair with multiple landings. The main rehearsal space and communal living accommodation attach themselves at the base where an internal and external entry space is carefully designed. Every moment from arrival at the threshold of the expansive site, to the opening of the heavy timber door into the traditional Scottish entry hall, and then sweeping up the stair and retreating into the very private curtained bed chambers is explored.
His design responds and demonstrates his control of structure, construction and sustainability with a delicate balance that also addresses place, atmosphere and sensuality. It is a delightfully rich and unique proposal.


Alan Hooper
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