IF YOU were to design a visitor centre to reflect the culture, history and geology of Eskdale and Liddesdale, what would it look like?
That was the challenge set for a group of 50 architecture students and staff from Loughborough University in Leicestershire who visited the area last Saturday as part of a study visit.
This group of second year architecture students have been given the task of designing buildings for a visitor centre. Their briefing notes described their project as follows:
“The aim of the project is to interrogate the typology of the visitor centre and its potential to engage with cultural, geological and historical narratives of places.
“We encourage you to carve out your own approach to the site and be boldly propositional, breaking the mould of the programme and seeking new interpretations of what the role of the architecture should be within this context.
“Cross-border communities provide opportunities for exploration and research into historical, geographical, geological, political, mythological, linguistic or personal and unrecorded experiences of individuals / communities.”
The visit to the area was for staff and students to learn about the history and culture of the Debateable Lands in more detail.
They had spent last Friday visiting Carlisle Castle and Tullie House Museum.
In Langholm Ron Addison of Langholm Library gave them a talk under the shelter of the bandstand on the Kilngreen about the history of Langholm and the buildings of the area in the past before they moved on to the Castleholm and took a closer look at Langholm Castle.
After this, the group were taken by coach to see the Milnholm Cross near Newcastleton before proceeding to the Lang Sandy statue in Rowanburn, Scots Dyke and Gilnockie Tower.
At the tower they enjoyed refreshments in the café before being given a guided tour of the restored building.
Their final visits on Sunday were to Gretna Green and the Lochmaben Stane on the farm of Old Graitney.
Ian Martin, Gilnockie Tower project manager, helped to deliver the visit so the students could explore the area in depth.
They will now go back and design a visitor centre which could offer interpretation and tell the story of the area.
This is something which heritage groups in Langholm and Newcastleton may like to follow up with the university’s architecture department to find out what was learned from the visit and the kind of visitor centres the students designed in their projects.