The Field Study Centre

Boat House and adjacent buildings renovation into a field study centre

The boat house and adjacent buildings are in a poor state of repair and require urgent attention to prevent further deterioration. In particular the double gabled roof of the boat house and bothy has a considerable number of loose slates and the rainwater gear in the valley is virtually non-existent.

Phase 1 – Urgent repairs

The first phase of works would be to secure the boat house and bothy from further deterioration and make it available for boat storage again. This will entail re-slating to roof, installing windows and rainwater gear and the hanging of good quality security doors on the boat house and bothy. This will support the work that the Friends of Blairs Loch are engaged in to re-establish the trout fishery.

However, the buildings offer a fantastic opportunity to create a facility which could be used by the local schools and other special interest groups.

Discussions have been held with representatives of the Primary Schools Associated School Group and Forres Academy regarding what would be required to make the buildings a workable facility. Group sizes of around 32 pupils need to be catered for, particularly for the primary schools, and typical classroom / science laboratory furnishings and fittings must be available. Currently no such facility exists for the primary schools in the Forres area and the Highers Grade students at Forres Academy are currently traveling to a centre near Beauly to cover their field study work (which includes 2.5 hours of lost education time sitting on a bus). The schools representatives are hugely enthused by the concept and have committed to supporting the venture in any way they can.

Phase 2: Field study Laboratory

The bothy room could cater for groups of around 12-16 and be targeted mainly, although not exclusively, senior school pupils (Primary schools will generally need a facility that is big enough for a full class of 30+ pupils). Once the room is wind and water tight from the repairs mentioned earlier is would be re-floored internally, insulated, lined and fitted out as a field study laboratory.

Phase 3: Field study classroom and extension

The Stable/ Cart room building offers the potential to create a fully serviced field study classroom capable of taking full classes of 30+ pupils. Whilst the aim is to provide a modern, well appointed, classroom facility, it is important that the pupils understand and feel the history and heritage of the place. This will be achieved by maintaining the external appearance of the building, including the curved entrance to the cart room whilst providing an internal finish which has utility and energy efficiency.

The open, curved, entrance to the cart room will be fitted with a full-sized glass partition using bi-folding doors. This will allow the classroom to extend into the open courtyard area when weather conditions permit. Hinged, or sliding, wooden doors will be hung onto the external face of this glass partition to provide additional security when the facility is not in use.

The internal partition wall and stable stalls will be removed to create a single, open plan space. The walls and roof will be insulated with 100mm Kingspan type insulation and lined with OSB boarding which will be painted. The open ceiling joists will be retained with the insulation and lining in the roof area taken to the upper sections on the roof trusses. This will maintain a feeling of volume to the room and keep the link to its historical use.

In order to provide toilets and a storage area the intention is to construct a new extension on the northern end of the building which will link to the side of the boat house. Waste water treatment will utilise the latest bio-digester technology in order to have only “grey water” discharge from the centre.

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