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In search of silence

Part 2 Project 2011
Hannah Fothergill
Edinburgh College of Art Edinburgh UK
“In search of silence” takes the remote site of Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye and looks at
the notion of silence in architecture within the natural landscape. Loch Coruisk is famed for
its isolation and rugged terrain. “Rarely human eye has known a scene so stern as that dread
lake.” proclaimed Sir Walter Scott. More recently the location was a focus for Robert
McFarlane in his book “The wild places.” Turner also reputedly visited the loch, almost
falling to his death as he sketched from a precarious perch.
The project attempts to identify methods of silence through three design experiments
located within the context of the Black Cuillin range; Whale bone bridge, Highland
Teahouse and High altitude shelter. Each serves a practical purpose, but also aspires to a
heightened advantage of focusing the individual’s attention on single aspects of the
landscape, thus facilitating silent meditative thought and understanding of being.
Whalebone Bridge utilizes natural geometries taken from the site and focuses attention into
the loch at a key threshold between one world and another; Noisy and silent. The Highland
teahouse plays upon the silence of the Japanese teahouse typology and the desire of the hill
walker for a good cup of tea in the outdoors. Its rusting steel form and heather thatch roof
make reference to existing highland typologies, without forgoing innovative contemporary
design ideas. In part its material concept is taken from the Kaikado tea caddy that becomes
more beautiful with age, picking up the patina of fingerprints and use. This particular
intervention provided me personally with a rewarding opportunity to explore design ideas
through the production process.
Finally the High altitude shelter explores the notion of silence through controlled material
decay. Located half way along the Cuillin ridge, by day the shelter provides a look out point
- a moment of static pause in an otherwise dynamic route, by night it cocoons its inhabitants
in dreams of silence. The form adapts as it melts back into the landscape. The mountains
watch it and its inhabitants leave.

Hannah Fothergill


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