Dawyck Botanic Garden, Building, Stobo, Visitor Facility, Opening, News

Dawyck Botanic Gardens, Peeblesshire, Scotland

Scottish Borders Building in Stobo, south of Peebles, Scotland – design by Simpson & Brown Architects

19 May 2008

Dawyck Botanic Gardens Stobo

Location: Stobo – on the B712, 8 miles south of Peebles, Scottish Borders

Visitor centre unveiled at Dawyck Botanic Garden

Design: Simpson & Brown Architects

RIAS Best Building in Scotland Award Finalist 2008

Dawyck Botanic Garden Stobo building

A new £1.6m state-of-the art visitor centre has opened its doors at Dawyck Botanic Garden, near Stobo, in the Scottish Borders.

Funded by the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Enterprise, the building is launched during the 30th anniversary year of Dawyck Botanic Garden coming into the care of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and is the first bespoke facility of this nature within the organisation’s four Gardens.

Dawyck Botanic Gardens Stobo Dawyck Botanic Gardens Scotland
photos from RBGE

Officially opened on Wednesday, May 14, by Scottish Government Cabinet Minister for the Environment Richard Lochhead, the building is intended to both improve RBGE’s ability to engage with members of the public and to bring added value to an important Borders tourist attraction, as Director of Horticulture, Dr David Rae, explained: “Dawyck is a wonderful Garden and the staff have worked really hard to develop the landscape and collections since it was gifted to the nation in 1978.

As visitor numbers increased over the years it became increasingly obvious that our facilities were failing to match the quality of the Gardens around them. Therefore, with an increased focus on improving the experience of our visitors, we took the decision that Dawyck should be the first of our Gardens to benefit from enhanced facilities”.

Dr Rae’s comments were echoed by Dawyck Curator David Knott, who commented: “This facility is an essential element of the continuing evolution of Dawyck as a botanic garden. While our key function is as a research and conservation institute, we also exist as a key tourist attraction in the area and, therefore, we must to provide our visitors with the best possible experience. This, in turn, also creates an opportunity to explain more about the work of RBGE in a relaxed and informal setting”.

Designed by Simpson & Brown Architects of Edinburgh and developed by Borders Construction, the building sets out to be a model of environmental sustainability. Floored with heat-retaining blue limestone, the interior is enhanced by oak frames, structural columns and ceiling beams.

The facility also enjoys the additional features of an external copper wall, designed to shimmer gently within the natural light of Dawyck’s stunning arboretum, and attractive copper rain catchers and down pipes. All this is topped by an attractive, insulating roof, planted with a carpet of sedums. Efficient under-floor heating is driven by a biomass boiler, fuelled by wood chips sourced from Buccleuch Estates, housed in the nearby workshops.

Richard Lochhead + Curator David Knott
Richard Lochhead + Curator David Knott

In celebration of its opening season, the visitor centre plays host to With the Grain – The Life and Legacy of Tim Stead, a tribute to the life and legacy of borders craftsman and philosopher Tim Stead. First staged at the Edinburgh Garden in 2005, this stunning exhibition of wood has continued to evolve under the guidance of Maggy Stead and her Borders-based team.

Its latest carnation, designed specifically for the intimate space of the Dawyck Studio, includes an impressively vast array of trademark Stead pieces, from the majestic Skeleton King’s Chair to the intricate Mask, Mime, Mummy.

Head of Visitor Services Alan Bennell, has led the team responsible for interpreting the visitor centre and securing the Stead exhibition explained: “The exhibition is complemented by a suite of exquisite furniture, specially commissioned for the space from the workshop of Tim Stead – a true living legacy and a most appropriate way to furnish a visitor centre for such a renowned woodland Garden”.

Alan Bennell

Dawyck Botanic Garden, Stobo, Peeblesshire, is one of the four National Botanic Gardens of Scotland, part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It is open to the public daily from February 1 to November 30.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a scientific research institution with a world-wide reputation for its expertise in the study of plants and their diversity. As well as three Regional Gardens – at Benmore, Argyll; Dawyck, Peeblesshire and Logan, Galloway – it operates several field stations around the world and has specialists working in more than 40 countries.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a Charity registered in Scotland (No SC007983)

Dawyck Botanic Garden images / information from RBGE

Dawyck Botanic Garden architects – Simpson & Brown, Edinburgh

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