29 October 2018

Consistency and symmetry

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The Macallan is a well-loved and internationally regarded single malt whisky which has been produced on the same estate since 1824. Over 90% is exported to nations around the world and it continues to be one of the most highly sought after whiskies to date. The new Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience, completed in May 2018, was borne out of a wish to create a building truly indicative of the whisky’s global status, which also enabled The Macallan to increase production while maintaining respect for the surrounding countryside. The combined efforts of the architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and structural engineer Arup resulted in this remarkable building which manages to be both imposing and thoughtful all at once.


The new distillery rises out of the rolling Speyside hills upon arrival to The Macallan estate. Composed of five domes, each topped with pre-grown meadow grass, the structure mirrors the surrounding landscape and appears to float above the natural contours of the estate; the ongoing process of whisky production is revealed through a long glazed elevation beneath.


Upon entering, the complexity of the roof is fully revealed: a vast undulating lattice of 3 x 3 metre hybrid glulam/LVL beams and a prefabricated deck of triangular 200mm thick timber cassettes are supported at mid-depth by inclined steel frames, which in turn support a waterproof membrane and insulated green roof system. At 207 metres long, it is one of the largest timber structures ever built and arguably one of the most complex—but the careful, efficient design, not unlike Scotland's ancient brochs, sensitively tempers the new landmark distillery to its surroundings.


Overall, the use of timber and the contrasting steel frames combine to conform tastefully with the Speyside landscape. The characteristics of timber and its relative light weight means it’s ideal for use in complex but visible structures, such as the distillery’s new ‘floating’ roof, and the darker colour of steel is similar to the whisky fungus which grows openly over the neighbouring grounds.


The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience is the key focus of one talk at the Better Timber Buildings conference on 15 November. Paul Edwards, Associate at Arup, will provide attendees with an inside look at the design of this exquisite award-winning building. Find out more


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