Dunbar is a historic harbour town on the east coast of Scotland. This project concerns the design of a new public gathering and performance space within a former 18thC civil defensive bastion. The Lamer Island Battery was built in 1781 during the American War of Independence to protect the town from potential invasion. The site subsequently housed a hospital for infectious diseases and a military hospital until the early 20th C. Latterly it had come a ruin, but it remained full of potential due to its stunning location, fascinating history and intriguing topography.
Our design seeks to exploit the layering of historic uses on the site through the repair and conservation the historic structure whilst transforming the space through the contemporary integration of a new amphitheatre, artwork, planting and seating.
A thorough process of archaeological investigation preceded and informed the design work. Further elements of historic interest such as a fumigation oven and hospital foundations were incorporated into the design as they were uncovered during the course of construction. Previously difficult to access, the site has been opened up to everybody through the introduction of an interpretive concrete path linking the revitalised battery to the harbour. A reduced but complementary palette of materials was introduced to animate the space including: timber (oak and larch) and concrete. A mulch of crushed shells was used around planted areas.
Interpretive elements were, wherever possible, integrated into the furniture and structure of the interventions so as not to detract from the stunning spatial quality of the battery itself. The artist Donald Urquhart was commissioned to make a site specific work, ‘Sea Cubes’, as series of stainless steel cubes engraved with ‘foraminifera’ (micro-organisms found in the North Sea).
Lamer Island Battery | Dunbar, Scotland | rankinfraser landscape architecture
Landscape Architect | rankinfraser landscape architecture
Artist | Donald Urquhart
Engineer | David Narro Associates
Quantity Surveyor | Morham and Brotchie
Main Contractor | G. Brown Stonemasons
Photography | rankinfraser landscape architecture