The Flows Lookout, a spectacular viewing tower in the midst of Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve in Sutherland, has just won no fewer than three national awards.
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Awards took place recently, and the Flows Lookout was named as one of the eleven best buildings of the year, as well as being commended in the Special Category Wood for Good/Forestry Commission Scotland Award for the Best Use of Timber. This success follows a recent commendation from the Edinburgh Architectural Association for the building, which was designed by Icosis architects (Edinburgh) and constructed by O’Brien Construction (Thurso).
The Lookout has been praised too by the thousands of visitors who have been rewarded with fabulous views on to the Dubh Lochan bog pools and the unique landscape of the Flow Country beyond. The observatory structure provides shelter with an open viewing deck above. It is clad in Scottish larch, the timber having been sourced and processed by Forestry Commission Scotland, from managed woodlands near Ullapool. Its location also makes it an excellent platform for stargazing.
It has been built as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded “Flows to the Future” project, which is also restoring seven square miles of damaged peatlands, updating the reserve visitor centre, and building a new field centre for researchers and volunteers.
The project is being delivered by the multi-agency Peatlands Partnership with RSPB Scotland as the lead partner. The Partnership includes Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission (Scotland), Highland Council, RSPB Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, The Highland Third Sector Interface, The Flow Country Rivers Trust, The Northern Deer Management Group and The Environmental Research Institute.
Professor Stuart Gibb of the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso and recently appointed as Chairman of the Peatlands Partnership said: “This is great news for the project and for the area. Our ambition was to create something that would allow visitors and local people to immerse themselves in the landscape and really experience what is special about the Flow Country, in particular being able to view the bog pools systems that are so characteristic of it.
“We hope that people will come away from Forsinard with a much enhanced understanding of the international importance of the Flow Country for its amazing wildlife, for its importance as a carbon store helping mitigate climate change, and for its sheer beauty as a landscape.”
Caroline Eccles, Manager of the Project added: “On behalf of the project team I would like to congratulate Icosis for their well-deserved award. I would also like to thank our local contractor, O’Brien’s Construction, for the superb job they did in building the Lookout. Designing and then erecting a structure like the tower in a peat bog is an extremely challenging assignment and Icosis and O’Brien’s managed to deliver it while keeping disturbance to this sensitive habitat to an absolute minimum.”
The Flows Lookout and boardwalk have been funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland and the Highland Council, as part of the £10.6 million Heritage Lottery Funded project.
Go to The Flow Country website to find out more about The Flows and visiting Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve.
For more information about the Peatlands Partnership visit www.caithness.org/peatlands_partnership/