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West Highland Line

Part 1 Project 2000
Alasdair Graham
Mackintosh School of Architecture | UK
The project is derived from the construction of the railway, from the time when the workers heroically pushed its thin steel line out into the wilderness. In the process the land is reconstructed and folded with cuttings, gullies, embankments, bridges and viaducts.
It is from these pieces that the project is constructed.
The stations are seen as topological excavations - a re-shaping of the land.

They are constructed from four common elements:-

CONCRETE - "Belonging to the Landscape".
The land is lifted, peeled, folded and re-laid.
Ravines are cut, excavated and retained.
In some places these pieces act as remnants of older structures, memories of previous periods.

STEEL - "Belonging to the Station".
Acting as new elements within the landscape, contemporary additions to the steel road to the highlands. These elements, such as the canopies, signify a new iconographical link between the stations along the route.

WOOD - "Connection to the Station"
Wood is layered into the steel and concrete structures at the 'point of contact' a link to the reformed land.

GLASS - "View the Landscape"
Elements are framed by the suporting structures informing movement along routes, and an appreciation of the lay of the land.

As they were initially upon construction, the stations are conceived of as social rejuvenators. Bringing life and energy back into the local communities, forming new spaces for connection and interaction.

At Dalmuir the station is seen as a mediator between the town and the greenscape of the parkland beyond, it forms a dialogue about connection, creating new grounds that can be occupied, generating an involvement within the existing spaces of the town.

The park is brought over forming a balcony to the town, and the activity of the town is brought into the space generated by the station. It becomes a social stage reinvigorating the ground plane and forming the first step in beginning to regenerate the community.

Alasdair Graham

Alasdair Graham has been nominated from Third Year because his work best illustrates sensitivity to the intentions of this project.

That is, the design of three railway stations of the West Highland Line - a heroic 19th Century engineering project which pushed a railtrack from Glasgow to Fort William and beyond, through magnificent landscapes, urban and rural, from 19th Century industrual ruins of Dalmuir on the Clyde estuary to Loch Lomond, Bridge of Orchy, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe to Ben Nevis.

We introduced the idea of railway architecture to the students as one of meeting, movement, time, place and materiality. Our recognition of the phenomena of commonly used materials in 19th Century stations - steel, cast iron, glass and wood - the particularity of materials used (London brick to Glasgow sandstone, Gothic aesthetic meets Scottish Neo-classic Baronial; the modified cottage architecture of suburban stations in wood frame) all pulled together by the common rail, the casting of metal, the masoning of stone and brick and the relationship to the surroundings.

Alasdair's perception of the three stations - Dalmuir (city edge), Ardlui (Loch Lomonside) and Bridge of Orchy (Munro bagging) each with their own scale of difficulty of planning, and of place - displayed a sensitivity to organisation, materiality and location.

• Page Hits: 3399         • Entry Date: 09 February 2000         • Last Update: 10 May 2001