Culzean Castle and Country Park

Purcell, South Ayrshire, 2017


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Main Image of New Entrance 

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  • Main Image of New Entrance    
  • Metal Ivy Detail    
  • Entry Road with Orbs-min    
  • Orb Detail 1    
  • Orb Detail 2    
  • Adam motifs from castle    
  • Adams Catsle Arch    
  • 001_Tower Blades and Ivy    
  • 002_Setting Out Drawing    
  • 003_Blades    
  • 004_Orb Details    
  • 005_Orb-Diagram    
  • 006_Orbs-Pattern 3    
  • Main Working Detail    

Provision of new entrance and visitor arrival experience for the National Trust for Scotland’s flagship property, Robert Adam’s 18th Century Culzean Castle.

In its own small way, this project considers architecture’s ongoing relationship with the act of copying. Four years before our appointment in 2012, Charles Holland, Sean Griffiths and Sam Jacob installed an exhibition in the Arsenale as part of the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice. Responding to the David Chipperfield’s theme of Common Ground their exhibit, entitled The Museum of Copying, anticipated and perhaps inspired what has since become a more accepted interest in exploring how ‘copying something is, strangely, a way of inventing new forms of architecture.’

Our project unashamedly, expertly and accurately references Robert Adam, to create a contemporary new figure on the boundary of Culzean Castle and Country Park. Where previously Armco barriers and a solitary timber sign signalled the entrance to the jewel in the National Trust for Scotland’s crown, steel and stone entwine to provide a better paced and more ceremonial entrance for drivers and passengers who are slowing down from the pace of the A719 approach.

With the Armco barriers screened by a newly planted Taxus hedge, visitors first experience the scrolling effect of parallax as they catch sight of the 25-metre array of vertical Corten blades of steel that flank the pair of new ashlar towers. Morphing as they are passed, from open to solid screens, on closer and final inspection when passing between the towers at a slower pace, the blades have become botanical, as metal re-emerges around the towers in an abstract filigree of ivy that reminds us of Adam’s own romanticised follies – as seen on this site in his ruinous and overgrown Castle Arch. Further down the path metal orbs are discovered, revealing laser cut Adam stencils that provide necessary illumination to the route.

The towers themselves are proportional copies of Adam’s own pair that frame the route between castle forecourt and clocktower. Built to millimetre accuracy by local stonemasons, the skill employed comes under even closer scrutiny when dusk falls and the less forgiving up-lights project rays of light up the parallel trunks. Every attempt was made through specification, detailing and on-site coordination to ensure that this £238k set piece endures for many years to come.

On entry the visitor is met with pops of colour from clipped azalea orbs interspersed with illuminated cor-ten orbs which are water cut with silhouettes drawn from Robert Adam’s plasterwork motifs from the castle to give an indication of what lies beyond.


  • Begun: Jan 2017
  • Completed: Aug 2017
  • Floor area: 1m2
  • Sectors: Arts and culture, Sports and leisure
  • Total cost: £235,000
  • Funding: Client
  • Tender date: Nov 2016
  • Procurement: Traditional Standard Building Contract With Quantities for use in Scotland (Nov 2011)
  • CO2 Emissions: -kg/m2/year
  • Address: Culzean Castle & Country Park, Maybole, South Ayrshire, KA19 8LE, United Kingdom

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