Teamwork by local businesses ensures creation of exciting outdoor venue at Dunollie Castle
Dunollie Castle near Oban has teamed up with Fusion Marine of Barcaldine and other local companies to create a raised platform in its garden grounds made from environmentally friendly recycled plastic which will be used for a variety of exciting outdoor activity events.
The new heptagonal platform by the Willow Hall, which forms the central base of an imaginative living willow tree tower and dome, will host events ranging from outdoor classes for youngsters to music and theatre performances.
The catalyst for the creation of the 22ft high willow structure was the Creative Scotland initiative aimed at developing local artistic skills through collaboration with internationally renowned artists. Keen to be involved in the scheme, Dunollie Castle found its inspiration to participate through the work of German-based ‘living architect’ specialist Marcelle Kalberer, which led to the creation of the willow structure in March 2013.
However, the ground in the Willow Garden directly below the leafy dome was too damp for outdoor activities - and in winter regularly floods. According to Jane Isaacson, Sustainability & Development Manager at Dunollie, draining the ground was not an option because willow needs damp ground to thrive. A raised wooden platform was the obvious solution – although the downside would be the continual maintenance required to prevent rot.
Jane says: “I was walking my dog down by the beach at the Marine Resource Centre in Barcaldine when I saw the recycled plastic material that Fusion Marine uses for its outdoor furniture and jetties. I knew then I had found the perfect sustainable solution, and which in the long term would prove much more cost-effective than wood.”
Fusion Marine supplied the recycled plastic material for project, as well as advice on installation including the use of stainless steel fasteners throughout to combat the wet environment. The platform itself was designed and built by local joiner Charlie Boyd to fit the heptagonal shape of the living willow structure. A canvas canopy for the dome was made by Owen Sails of Oban. The brown colour of the platform is natural looking and the structure is corrosion proof, yet with sound sustainability credentials.
“We can now use the Willow Hall to its full potential as an all-weather outdoor learning space for our Young Museum programme and for special activities and performances throughout the year,” says Jane. “The Willow Garden is also a wonderful and peaceful place for visitors to enjoy. We are especially pleased that this fabulous venue has been created by local companies.”
Rhuaraidh Edwards of Fusion Marine said: “Recycled plastic was the perfect material choice for this application and we are delighted to have been able to lend the project some of our extensive knowledge and expertise in recycled plastic to help create this exciting outdoor venue. We are currently enjoying strong local sales of our range of recycled plastic outdoor picnic tables, benches and decking – the fact they won’t rot makes them ideal for the rather damp climate of Argyll and Lochaber!”