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Scott Brownrigg speaks on sustainable tourism at our Venice forum

Above: Neil MacOmish, Group Board Director at Scott Brownrigg

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Neil MacOmish, Group Board Director at Scott Brownrigg will be joining our 'Culture, tourism and sustainability' forum in Venice this September.

Neil has led the firm's Cardiff studio since it was established 15 years ago. The studio won the AJ100 best practice in Wales award for three successive years. He also spent 10 years on the Strategic Board.

As well as heading up Scott Brownrigg's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) sector, Neil is responsible for driving design quality across the practice, leading its research hub - the Design Research Unit. Having graduated from The Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) at Cardiff University, Neil continued his research education at The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London in Space Syntax Theory.

Neil believes that creative and innovative solutions are generated by working closely with clients and working collectively on their aspirations, and that a critical analysis of place and the specific context will result in the most appropriate and best architectural design. He states that he is committed to a pragmatic approach to an architecture which is sustainable commercially, socially as well as environmentally.

He is a studio tutor and external critic at the Welsh School of Architecture. Neil was also part of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation – World Congress on Sports Tourism Scientific Committee, and sat on the Urban Land Institute New York’s Bronx Community Board Technical Advisory Panel. As a specialist in stadia design, his knowledge of stadium requirements and how these can integrate into complex urban fabric and existing communities proved invaluable to the panel.

He has been involved in many of the our high profile, award-winning schemes over the years including the International Convention Centre in Newport and the Cardiff Ice Arena, shortlisted for a World Architecture News Awards; the Museum of Military Medicine and the 220 hectare Mount Ngongotatha masterplan in Rotorua, New Zealand, both shortlisted for WAF Future Projects Awards, and most recently The Rhondda Tunnel, set to be the longest digital art gallery in the world, highly commended for the WAF Future Project Award for culture.

Scott Brownrigg has been working on a new sustainable tourist hub in the heart of County Monaghan in Ireland. The concept has been developed for the partnership between Monaghan County Council and Fáilte Ireland together with Professor Terry Stevens of Stevens and Associates as key facilitator of the study and tourism research and concepts.

The vision, which has now been out to public consultation, identifies how land on Muckno Estate in Castleblayney could become a resilient and innovative adventure tourist destination that will act as a catalyst for regional tourism growth. Built with significant community involvement, the proposal will deliver benefits that harness the regenerative and wellbeing power of connecting adventure with nature, heritage, and culture.

Drawing inspiration from the Estate’s remarkable history and glacial landscape, proposals are based upon the shaping of the drumlin, interspersed with loughs and lakes, and seeks to protect Hope Castle built in the 18th Century. A series of glazed domes embedded into the landscape mimic the setting, and host a wide range of covered adventure activities to enjoy all year round.

Hope Castle is potentially enveloped within one of the glass domes, protecting it from the elements to help reduce future restoration and maintenance costs. There is an opportunity to work in partnership with the world-leading Ars Electronica Centre and Ars Solutions to create ‘The Deep Space of Adventure’, a concept that delivers immersive experiences within the walls of the Castle. Designed as a flexible, multi-use space, the Deep Space facility is able to host a wide range of events, research purposes, and even medical training.

A selection of high quality accommodation includes the lakeshore wellness hotel; a dispersed hotel with bedrooms spread across the estate in a variety of settings as well as rooms in local guesthouses and traditional pubs, hotels, and restaurants. This reflects the shift in interest, particularly since the start of the pandemic, away from large-scale hotels towards more low impact boutique locations with fewer rooms and a focus on wellbeing and the locale.

The project aims to be carbon neutral, with each of the domes supported by earth rammed walls built from materials excavated from site, and featuring a locally sourced, sustainable-latticed timber roof inspired by the work of local world-renowned architectural engineer Peter Rice. Passive environmental techniques will control the internal climate, as well as using ground and water sourced heat from the landscape and Lough Muckno. The proposal augments opportunity for biodiversity, water enhancement and well-being of this special landscape.

This new vision for the Estate fully integrates with the town, the wider countryside with its Greenways and other attractions. This will ensure multiple benefits for local people and providing guests with a seamless, authentic but contemporary Irish heritage and cultural experience.

Above: CGI of the Turtle Bay eco-wellness and sports tourism development in Morocco (Scott Brownrigg)

Scott Brownrigg has also been engaged to work on the creation of an eco-wellness and sports tourism destination on the Atlantic coast of the Sahara in Western Morocco - a rich composite of mixed uses that includes a complex of visitor and community facilities including agri-business with a robust sustainable agenda.

Joining the desert and the sea, the project builds on a unique genius loci, landscape, sports and cultural location. It synthesises traditional passive Moroccan techniques in response to climate whilst maintaining a clear contemporary architectural language. The project celebrates its desert location – eschewing ‘green’ landscapes which are alien and unsustainable.

The resort centre, includes international kite surfing school, spa, Michelin star restaurant, spice culinary school, souk, riad, tennis centre, international primary school, hospital, sports health clinic, business and management school, multi-faith building, concert/performance/art galleries, worker accommodation, equestrian centre, hand gliding/zip wire centre, visitor accommodation (various) and salt-water greenhouses.

Cars are only allowed to the site entrance and are covered with PV panelled canopies. It includes the provision of a new mini-port – which will provide leisure activities but also a waterbus connection and for the effective import of materials.

In New Zealand, Scott Browrigg was one of ten international practices invited to submit a proposal for a cultural tourism masterplan for the Ngati Whakaue, the Iwi (Maori People), who own four substantial landholdings around Lake Rotorua. It won the competition based on its ‘architectural attitude’ to building in a unique landscape on the side of a sacred mountain (“of the hill, in the hill, above the hill”) and responding to their design drivers “Our People, Our Land, Our Stories”.

The practice's concept for the masterplan is ‘episodic’ – a series of forms and events (the idea of “shaping”) that are interwoven with the rich narrative of NWTL and their heritage. The masterplan reaches out to the three most predominant cultural ‘touchstones’ – Mokoia island, the tribal meeting house and Te Puia (a geo-thermal/Māori visitor centre). The orientation and placement of the strategic interventions are informed by these three elements.

The programme includes a contemporary Māori arts centre and theatre, a visitor centre, retail, an activity centre, two hotels, lodges, a Māori innovation centre and a cultural ‘arts trail’. We make contemporary reference to vernacular Māori construction forms, and in particular the use of their oxblood colour and the palisade which represents family (Whānau) and community/the people (Iwi).

In Scotland, Scott Brownrigg was appointed to design the 44 hectare masterplan for a wellbeing and cultural visitor facility to be called The Barony. With challenging topography, the masterplan had to address a substantial level change from the access road to the north down to Lugar Water, a famous river at the southern end of the site.

Guiding the design concept is a desire to convey a sense of place throughout. The design makes use of the ‘A’ frame of the previous colliery to convey the site’s original heritage, and to mark out a series of zones within the site and, notably, a processional arrival sequence.

Transforming the site of an ex-coal mine, The Barony will host 344 villas, a reception and visitor centre, and spa areas, alongside ecological sites that will generate produce and research from an ambitious re-wilding programme.


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