The Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre is situated in a picturesque location overlooking the A Listed Port-Na-Craig hydroelectric dam in Perthshire. Replacing the visitor centre that was formerly housed within the dam, the new building is a contemporary alternative that takes advantage of the stunning man-made and natural surroundings, with views reaching as far as Loch Faskally, to create a bespoke centre that informs the public about the history, present and future of the dam.
The previous building, seen via the orange door in the photograph, is now a Corporate Archive Centre for SSE. It was of a view that the building was not fit for purpose as regards its functionality in accepting large numbers of visitors. The new centre seeks to eradicate these issues with a user-friendly experience firmly at the focus of its design and layout.
The building from all angles takes influence from the surroundings and whilst its form is modern, its place in the hillside does not feel out of place. To assist with this three different textures of the same concrete panel material which gives it a subtle variation in the same colour to the exterior cladding, with the trees helping to frame it in the landscape. This is personified further by the entrance to the building: small and restrained, the entrance seeks to maximise the appeal of the surroundings and the views that come with it, therein enhancing the arrival of the visitor upon entry to the building.
CCG also constructed a brand new car park to accommodate visitors, which is welcome addition given the anticipated 80,000+ that are expected to visit the centre every year.
Visitors are welcomed to the first floor and are immediately met by carefully laid out café and retail space. On the ground floor, visitors are provided with a complete visual experience detailing the history of the dam and the workers that were involved in the original construction in the early 20th century.
Without doubt the centrepiece for the building is the 8m cantilever out into the hillside. Designed to further encapsulate the views across the dam, there are four metres of concrete box which is filled with hard-core to ensure the building is physically connected to the material deep in the hillside providing a secure footing and providing a strong foundation for the cantilever. This cantilever is actually a carefully designed element of the building as it utilises a large amount of glazing in order to further enhance views and reduce the impact on the local surroundings. Visitors also have the ability to walk underneath via a carefully constructed walkway.
CCG commenced works in November 2015 completing the project in December 2016.