David Marshall Lodge Visitor Centre

The Lodge is nestled within the rolling hills of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and is the flagship centre for activities in the Loch Achray and Loch Ard Forests. jmarchitects have worked with Forestry and Land Scotland over a number of years to complete a comprehensive upgrade and refurbishment of the Grade B Listed buildings and external areas in order to improve visitor experience.

Date

2013

Client

Forestry Commission Scotland

Value

£2.2m

Initially, the project involved the refurbishment and re-modelling of the existing 1950’s Grade B Listed Lodge visitor centre to take full advantage of the site’s sweeping views and ensure the best visitor experience possible. Extensive refurbishment and remodelling both internally and externally was required and jmarchitects undertook a detailed consultation with planning and conservation authorities to ensure alterations were agreed.

Studying the original building plans, we discovered the very simple plan form of the original structure which we reverted to by removing the accretion of later additions. The revised internal layout provides an improved, flexible space with interpretation areas, a teaching area and shop all fitted out within the listed structure respecting the spatial layout and existing window positions. An original terrazzo stair was revealed, restored and preserved as a feature within the new internal fabric. A 1970’s extension to the building was stripped back and restored as a new café space with views looking over Loch Achray Forest.

Externally, the buildings are clad in horizontal dark slate stone with stone dressings and details around the windows and doors. A series of architecturally significant columns had the paint removed to reveal that they were stone – they were fully restored and are a key feature of the buildings.

The second phase of the development was for the refurbishment of the B Listed Warden’s cottage adjacent to the main Lodge building. The project looked to convert the two-bedroom cottage into a new activity base to support the visitor programme and accommodate community groups, education providers and businesses. 

Internally, the cottage has been remodelled to provide modern, robust multi-functional spaces to support the outdoor activities around the Forest Park. Externally, the same sympathetic approach has been taken with the repairs to the existing stonework and the installation of replacement timber windows and doors revert the cottage back to its original 1950’s design.

The latest phase of the development looked to further improve visitor flow to the main lodge building through the remodelling of existing surfaces and a new ramped access creating better links to all the visitor facilities on site.

The buildings are seen as an important asset in Aberfoyle area and as such an important part of the community support facilities for the local area. Local people use the café and the Lodge as a base for walking. The café is hired by community groups for various activities whilst the cottage operates as a community meeting room and education hub. Demand for community use was considered in the context of existing clubs and activities as well as through an extensive community consultation exercise which also involved an open evening feedback session with the architects and client body at the Lodge.

The buildings are by their nature remote and are positioned outside the town of Aberfoyle in the Trossachs. An energy audit was undertaken to optimise the mix and choice for the client with a biomass boiler providing a renewable fuel source for heating. A fabric first approach was adopted with high U-values bettering the building regulations in order to support a green strategy. Natural ventilation was adopted throughout due to building footprints allowing for cross ventilation.

The extensive refurbishment project has seen the Lodge and its surroundings restored to provide a state-of-the-art Visitor Centre and community asset all while being more efficient in terms of energy management, more sustainable in terms of commercial viability and more appealing in terms of visitor experience.

Project gallery

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The Challenge

Having served the area well for the past 50 years as a major recreation, leisure and educational resource, the centre was in need of an upgrade to improve visitor facilities.

The Solution

The project involved the refurbishment and re-modeling of the existing building and external areas and the removal of existing internal walls and finishes and a full refurbishment to a revised layout. Alterations to the existing entrances were carried out together with the provision of DDA compliant access around the building.

The Outcome

The upgrade and refit has given this much loved listed building a new lease of life and transformed the Centre into a state of the art facility.

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