Huts in Place: Abriachan Forest

One of four local events curated for the Archictecture Fringe 2017 .

This event was part of the launch of new local timber building company Northscape Highland Ltd. The aim was to raise awareness of the wider conversation around hutting in Scotland, which included the introduction of new legislation from the Scottish Government in July 2017. A proto-type hut was built by Northscape on local community-owned Abriachan Forest Trust land and to stimulate conversation. Talks included Karen Grant of Highland-based charity Reforesting Scotland and alpine forest ecologist Dr Emily Hesling.

Karen Grant of Reforesting Scotland discussed Scotland's A Thousand Huts Campaign, outlined recent policy and legislation and highlighted the cultural importance of the bothy or hut as a space for creativity. Consultant ecologist Dr Emily Hesling discussed environmental factors to consider when planning a hut build, outlining various steps you can take to ensure that your hut has as little environmental impact as possible. She also reflected on how huts may contribute positively to the local biodiversity in Scotland and elsewhere, giving the example of blanket bog.

You can listen to each of the talks below:

“Huts have a huge cultural importance, not just in what we call the traditional model of ‘hut culture.’ Huts and hut-like buildings such as bothies have fed into how we see our country and what kind of creativity comes out of our country. We have Martyn Bennett, who wrote the album ‘Bothy Culture’; Hamish Henderson the folklorist, who travelled around gathering songs and stories from the Travelling people; and Norman MacCaig - hut life was very much part of his life in Assynt... Huts and hut-like buildings feed in to the poetic imagination of these creative people and they contribute something to our culture, which is both rooted in tradition and looking forward, which is what the Thousand Huts Campaign wants to do.”

— Karen Grant, Reforesting Scotland

“A lot of people are seeing huts as a way to reconnect with wilderness. At the same time there is the conservationist within all of us that is a little bit scared of the potential environmental impacts this may have, and maybe withold from that experience - seeing humans as only potentially ‘bad’ things when we are putting ourselves in wild situations. As an ecologist, I hope I can explain throughout this talk that I think that this isn’t the case. My view is that huts could potentially be a really positive thing environmentally across Scotland.”

— Emily Hesling

With thanks to Suzann, Roni and Clelland at the Abriachan Forest School.
Audio-visual recordings with thanks to ethnologist Chris Wright of 
Local Voices.

Mairi McFadyenComment