An Artists’ fieldstation whose construction was part-forestry, part-joinery and part-mountain rescue

The Search for a Site

The exact location grew out of a complex interaction between partners, landowners, local authorities and the landscape itself, as revealed by long clambers through wet undergrowth and wooded slopes, in carpets of pine needles and clouds of biting midgies, in search of natural and human drama.

The Big View

The site chosen is full of it. Sitting opposite the mountain, a visitor approaches Outlandia along a path cut through dense woods behind, descending out the musty dark to a big view which, framed by tall larches, opens-up across the Glen to the shoulder of the Ben. 

Great nature dazzles, but we soon adjust to see the multiplicity of human interaction within: threaded routes cross it, from the main road and West Highland Way along the foot of the Glen to the tourist route up the mountain, with its strings of tiny bobbling hats working their way up the hill; the car parks, caravan parks and visitor centre, places of the modern tourist trade; the old mills and older burial mounds and long view up to the Iron Age vitrified fort at Dun Deardail, traces of more ancient occupation; and the great, contemporary, industrial aluminium smelter down the Glen and the hydro that powers it.

Nothing could be further from the conceit of the Highlands as “unspoilt wilderness”. We have long been part of this landscape, and artists making work for, from and around Outlandia have illuminated such tensions.

Outlandia drawings 1
Plate3

LocationGlen Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland

Client / The Highland Council; imagined by art partnership London Fieldworks (Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson)

Architect / Malcolm Fraser Architects

Funding / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Scottish Arts Council, Nevis Landscape Partnership

Completion / September 2010

Gross Internal Area / 6.5m2

Outlandia Artist's Fieldstation
Looking back at Outlandia, from across Glen Nevis

The Construction Challenge

The building itself sits out from a 45 degree slope: a treehouse, part-built out the trees cut down to form the site, entered across a bridge from the slope behind; a simple box, leaning-out into the view with a big window opening-up to it. Part of the process of building was low-impact, an eco-friendly use of material recovered from the site; and part was the opposite, high-impact, with daredevil landings of concrete, for the foundations, from a helicopter. 

Construction was part-forestry, part-joinery and part-mountain rescue, with a local contractor who nicely combined all three, and an unusual set of Risk Assessments.

Section

Main Contractor / Norman Clark; contract value £40,000

MFA Team / Niall Jacobson, Malcolm Fraser

Structural Engineer / Buro Happold

Costs / Hardies

Cover
Plate7
Finding-Sketch
Alec-Finlay-cropped
Work by Alec Finlay, an Outlandia Artist in Residence
Outlandia 01

Publications

Outlandia by Malcolm Fraser Architects
Dezeen, 2011

Cabins
Taschen, 2014

Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture
Routledge, 2016

Nanotecture
Phaidon, 2017

Off the Grid
Thames & Hudson, 2019

Further Information

Outlandia

London Fieldworks

Photography