UNION CANAL VISITOR FACILITIES
Client: British Waterways
Location: Lochrin Basin, Edinburgh
Programme: Completed 2011
Situated at the head of the Union Canal, this building occupies a long narrow strip of land, only 4.5 metres wide, which is a Scheduled Monument. The simple design embraces the industrial heritage of the surrounding area with a contemporary intervention. The aesthetic concept behind this is to emphasise the horizontal nature of the water space of the Union Canal itself within the massing and form of the new building.
There is a deliberate contrast between the solid façade to the road side and the glazed, more open, façade to the water side. Both are clad in horizontally laid zinc, with the water side façade having substantial areas of glass, with perforated steel shutters to secure the building at night.
The simplicity of the form of the building is a result of careful and considered detailing. The visitor reception is in the form of a minimal glass box, which functions as a beacon on the canal at night when it is lit up from inside. It is secured by a large timber lined panel, which slides opens in daytime to form an area of sheltered enclosure outside the entrance.
The end result is an intriguing contemporary design which responds to the complexities of its site and forms a small but memorable visitor experience in its own right.