British architectural firm Gordon Murray Architects were commissioned by Forth Energy, a joint venture between Forth Ports Plc and SSE (Scottish Southern Energy) to develop conceptual design proposals for a series of new Biomass Renewable Energy Plants at their ports of Dundee, Grangemouth, Rosyth and Leith in support of Section 36 Applications. The projects have an estimated combined construction value of over £1 billion.
Each project is developed through a clear exploration and understanding of the technological processes involved in the plant operation, by drawing inspiration from the physical and historical setting in which each plant is located, and through intensive research into historical precedent of the power station as building typology. This ensures every project has a unique design solution appropriate to its function and place.
It is Forth Energy’s aspiration that the four Biomass Renewable Energy Plants will be operational by 2015.
+ Project credits / data
Project: Biomass Renewable Energy Plants
Location: Dundee, Grangemouth, Rosyth and Leith, UK
Architect: Gordon Murray Architects | http://www.gordonmurrayarchitects.com
Client: Forth Energy
+ About the ports
Dundee, referencing itself as the City of Discovery has a long and distinguished history of scientific endeavour . The renewable energy plant site is on the same waterfront which built Scott’s Discovery, and the notion of the long ship at the water’s edge about to embark on a voyage of scientific exploration is quite explicit in the design. The main body of the plant hovers above the quayside by use of translucent materials at low level, while the main boiler house becomes an expressive part of the Dundee skyline.
Grangemouth is Scotland’s largest container terminal. The proposed site for the new plant is also currently used to store containers. So an obvious, but appropriate move was to consider the cargo container as the basic building block of the new plant, stacked in such a manner as to orientate the higher elements of the plant away from the town to the south. A semi translucent sculptural form encloses the highest elements, reading as part of a sequence of infrastructure set pieces in the area including the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpie boat lift.
As a former naval dockyard and decommissioning pen for nuclear submarines and now the site for final construction of the Royal Navy’s new super carriers, the design of the Rosyth plant draws inspiration from the forms of submarine and aircraft carrier conning towers. The site also enjoys a strong connection to the Forth crossings, and the plant opens itself up to act as a gateway into Fife, and to also allow greater understanding of the processes within.
With the site located at the boundary of the City of Edinburgh, and the Firth of Forth and North Sea beyond, the plant form is separated into a solid base which relates in scale to the surrounding port structures, with the higher elements articulated in a more dynamic form, suggestive of maritime imagery -clouds on the horizon, the sails of a tall ship, the crystalline surface of an iceberg. By creating a clear distinction between high and low level elements, the upper levels can be articulated to reduce the apparent bulk of the form, evoking memories of the large sail clippers which once serviced the Port of Leith, while the lower level storage structures would relate to the fabric of the existing port.