Scottish Scenic Routes initiative

A person standing by a roadside looking out across the landscape in Cairngorms National Park.
Published: 30/07/2015

This is a post from 2015 and the Scottish Scenic Routes initiative is now closed. For more recent competitions, see the results for the A&DS and RIAS Student Awards for Architecture 2021.

Architecture and landscape architecture competitions for the third pilot group of structures and installations to be built as part of the widely acclaimed Scottish Scenic Routes initiative were launched on Monday 10 August 2015.

This third group of competitions focuses on three different locations. One is just north of Fort William and a short distance from the A82 on the ‘Road to the Isles’ (A830) on land owned by Scottish Canals. The other two sites are within the Cairngorms National Park adjacent to the A93 and A939, respectively.

Each site has its own specific brief in response to the quite different and distinctive design challenge it presents to competition entrants.

It is open to architects and landscape architects still within five years of having completed RIBA Part II or the achievement of Graduate landscape Architect status.

The principal aim of the two-stage competitions is to provide models or demonstration projects for new and innovative design and construction along Scotland’s scenic routes, thereby enhancing the country’s tourism infrastructure.

In doing so, the projects are intended to:

  • showcase the best of Scotland’s young design talent
  • give the winning participants experience, mentoring, and the chance to see these early career opportunities realized in full-scale physical form
  • support employment and community economies in rural parts of the country

The requirement for the first stage of each of the three competitions is for conceptual solutions only. These are to be submitted in PDF format as a single outline proposal drawing at A1-equivalent size.

Up to four entrants will be shortlisted for each of the three sites and invited to proceed to stage two. Those selected at this point will be required to develop their ideas in detail. They will be asked to provide evidence that their designs are not only technically and financially robust, but can be fully delivered by the end of March 2016.

Entrants can choose to provide ideas for one more of the competitions.

What a previous winner said

The winning architect for the pilot project group one site at Loch Lubnaig, Ruairidh Campbell Moir, sums up what the initiative has meant for him:

“The Scottish Scenic Routes competition is a tremendous springboard into the profession and one that is a significant ‘leg-up’ into the industry. A combination of the harsh economic climate, fewer potential commissions and an unbuilt portfolio of works all but slams the door shut on many young architects and landscape architects.

“The sites identified and the competition brief offered a tantalising opportunity to cut your teeth on a potentially live project. As competitions go, it has been very inclusive and also fair to the entrants by recognising the time and resources required by designers to produce a submission.

“Personally I am excited at the prospect of numerous architectural interventions across Scotland that can enhance our appreciation or understanding of place. It can only be a good thing for Scotland’s economic and cultural development, both at home and overseas.”


The Scottish Scenic Routes initiative was inspired by Norway’s National Tourist Routes. It is intended to embrace cycle, rail, pedestrian and water routes as well as key roads tourists and visitors use in all parts of Scotland.

The Norwegian project recognised the enhanced economic benefit benefits the country’s tourism sector could derive from developing a series of modern and architecturally distinct stopping places along the routes most popular with travellers heading to major landscape and cultural attractions.

Strategic objectives and funding

The strategic objectives of the Scottish Scenic Routes initiative are to:

  • encourage more visitors to spend more time enjoying Scotland’s varied landscapes
  • create attractive visitor experiences by constructing site-specific, high-quality installations with strong visual impact
  • encourage visitors to leave their vehicles and experience landscape settings on foot
  • enhance and sustain rural communities and rural employment, with commensurate benefits to local services, schools and more
  • create new opportunities for private sector investment in the tourism sector like new restaurants and hotels
  • promote high-quality design through the creation of opportunities for recently graduated architects and landscape architects
  • create opportunities to demonstrate and test new and innovative construction products and systems developed in Scotland

Three-year funding for the Scottish Scenic Routes pilot programme was secured from the Scottish Government in 2013.

Programme partners

Scottish Government; Architecture and Design Scotland; Cairngorms National Park Authority; Edinburgh Napier University; Forestry Commission Scotland; Loch Lomond and the Trossachs’ National Park Authority; Scottish Canals; Scottish Construction Innovation Centre; Scottish Natural Heritage; Sustrans; Transport Scotland; Visit Scotland.


The pilot stage of the Scottish Scenic Routes initiative began in mid-2013 and will conclude at the end of March 2016.

Two of the three planned groups of design competitions have been completed. All three winning projects at the Falls of Falloch, Loch Lubnaig, and Inveruglas from the first-stage competitions are now constructed.

The two winning projects from the second stage competitions at Corgarff and Laggan are due to start on site shortly.

Header image credit: Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

A&DS and RIAS Student Awards for Architecture 2021: results

The student awards are a mark of the continuing high standards of Scottish architectural education. They ensure that both construction professionals and the public can enjoy the creativity and vision of Scotland’s future architects. You can see the results for the A&DS and RIAS Student Awards for Architecture 2021 in the link below.

View results