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Oyster Farm

Part 2 Project 2010
Sean Gaule
Robert Gordon University | UK
Industry and farming are important for the sustenance and development of any town. The town we propose for Edinburgh is no different in this respect. Our town proposal draws on the unique and marvellous relationship created by the site’s close proximity to the water. Oyster farming was once an important part of the productive economy on the Forth and sadly ceased in 1957. However, thanks to improving water quality in the Forth there are signs of a rejuvenation of the oyster population. This scientific data, along with a desire to provide for water based industry was important to me throughout the design. I wanted to explore the dialogue between this sea-based industry and buildings.

Illustrated here is an oyster and mussel farm to the North West of Cramond Island. The site offers the best conditions for oyster and mussel farming; expanses of tidal mud flats where the fresh and sea water meet. The very notion of the farm, stretching along Drum sands in the shadow of Cramond Island generates an image of vitality, vibrancy and activity which has been lacking from the Edinburgh coastline.

The design of this collection of buildings was inspired by many images and precedents which manifest themselves in the relationship between the form, the composition and the materials. The cluster consists of two key elements. One industrial - farm yard, its processing sheds and the farm house; the other a public promenade with a restaurant at its end. Together they encapsulate ideas of productivity and consumption, industry and recreation, ruggedness and luxury and enclosure and openness.

During the design, this very particular site with its fabulous views of the Edinburgh skyline, expansive sky, unrelenting sea and silent haar provided both a vacuum and then an overwhelming resource of imagery and experiences. Trying to develop a scheme which inflects elements of this seascape has been both challenging and rewarding. The language which the buildings’ communicate to the observer reflects this changing and diverse range of thought. This project is a result of the design process as much as it is about artistic intent and vision.

Sean Gaule

This year, the masters students at Scott Sutherland took on an extremely difficult problem: the creation of a new community; a place where people could live, work, raise their children and enjoy life. Sean led the whole team with great enthusiasm, as over the first semester they developed proposals for a new island and a vision for the future. Together they created an environment which was sustainable and architecturally rich.

In the second semester, the group worked on individual projects.
Each project had to follow the master planning and design strategy set out by the unit. Sean chose to design an oyster farm; a project which was absolutely in keeping with the unit’s ambition. His intent was revitalize an industry that was once prevalent on the Forth estuary. His investigation work was exhaustive, the completed project is remarkable and his drawings superb.

The unit’s work has been a real success, the master plan they have created has discipline, structure and intellectual rigour. Sean was responsible for much of that success, through his leadership of the group and he has the makings of a superb young architect.

Professor Alan Dunlop


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