The Pyramid, a new landmark viewpoint on a rocky peninsula overlooking Loch Lomond, is a triple whammy of firsts. An inaugural architectural project by a newly established young practice BTE Architecture, it's also a pilot project for the Scottish Scenic Routes initiative, a new programme inspired by the National Tourist Routes in Norway that's seeking to develop a uniquely Scottish model to promote the country's destination appeal.
BTE Architecture's response to the Inveruglas site, a popular visitor spot and starting point for walkers to the Arrochar Alps, is to eschew rather than embrace a site-specific approach. 'The Pyramid's geometry, which is based on triangles in plan and section, is universal and as such not specific to or a reflection of the particular site. Therefore the structure does not necessarily use the landscape as its context, but instead creates a new context for the landscape.The Pyramid is deliberately designed as a landmark,' explains Daniel Bär, one of the three founders of the Glasgow and Oslo based BTE Architecture, alongside Stéphane Toussaint and Sean Edwards.
That's not to say that the Pyramid is simply a stand-alone statement, or indeed a 'folly' without any practical purpose. 'The Pyramid is architecture that wants to be used by its visitors,' continues Bär. 'It is positioned on the most exposed part of the site and visible from afar through its scale and physicality. People look at it.'
'Approaching the structure on the long path forming the only entrance, the Pyramid then appears amongst the trees as a vertical wall that actually blocks out the view. This relationship changes however once the visitor enters through its tunnel and into the view. At this point it disappears and the surrounding hills are more present, almost as walls, than the Pyramid itself. It was designed to be experiential.'
The Scottish Scenic Routes initiative, which is aimed exclusively at young professionals and students, is a rare opportunity for fledgling practices, such as BTE, to physically as well as conceptually construct. 'We are interested in a building culture that is progressive,' concludes Bär. 'In this respect it is important that a younger generation of architects are given a chance to participate by actually being able to create architecture that is relevant and a reflection of its time.'