Submitted by Horner + Maclennan
Chanonry Point overlooks Chanonry Narrows, a tidal race providing an ideal habitat for bottlenose dolphins to socialise and forage. Internationally acclaimed as one of the best places in Europe to see dolphins from the shore, the site is one of the top ten visitor attractions in the Highlands. This popularity has, however, led to problems associated with access, lack of parking and impact of visitor numbers on local residents.
h+m were appointed to prepare design proposals seeking a more formal approach to traffic management and parking provision, but which remained sympathetic to the exposed coastal character. These proposals were also to incorporate public art and interpretation panels, to create an integrated design solution which enriched the visitor experience.
From the outset, the Client shared the landscape architects strategic vision of embedding a sense of place into the project rather than simply embellishing an engineered parking layout.
Visitors now obtain an enhanced experience, through improved access, parking provision and interpretation. The existing site character has been strengthened, reinforcing local distinctiveness whilst respecting local environmental and community sensitivities. Detailing is decidedly robust and hard wearing, given current and anticipated visitor numbers and the exposed nature of the headland. Planting is deliberately low key, influenced by coastal native habitats, where hardy, salt-resistant plants naturally colonise pebble beaches and shingle shorelines. Dolphin-themed pictograms were developed as an integral component of the wayfinding strategy for the site.
The project demonstrates a considered sensibility to problem solving within an exposed coastal environment, through simple design interventions which are appropriate to the site and context, creating an attractive, informative and pleasurable place to visit which enhances the experience
of visitors and locals alike, although spotting the dolphins appears just as hit and miss as previously…!
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