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Ness Islands Arena

Ness Islands Arena

Ness Islands Arena

The design of this work was influenced by two main considerations, the geography of the site, and the requirements of function from the client, Inverness City Partnership.

The site is a wooded clearing, running north to south in its length of approximately 50 metres, and west to east in its width of approximately 32 metres. The clearing is bounded by footpaths on either side running north to south, then raised banks, and then the river Ness passing by on either side.

The atmosphere is one of quiet containment, surrounded by the hush of running water. A curious juxtaposition of stillness and movement, both of which have the effect of giving emphasis to the other.

The requirements for practical use of the site include a place which people can enjoy on a casual basis, somewhere to stop and soak up the atmosphere in quiet contemplation; a place where families can stop and children play; a place that can be used by organised groups led by rangers or teachers; a space that can also used for performances, festivals and services. A space that has a strong sense of focus.

The design comprises a system of earthworks overlapping one another, and built round a concentric circle. They lie towards the northern edge of the clearing, so maximising the light coming over the tree line to the south.

The diameter of the work is approximately 27 metres. The earthworks rise and fall in a wave like pattern, up to 1.2 metres at their highest point.

The internal faces of the earthworks are built from a fluid pattern of red sandstone, granite, marble and 27 cast iron images.

These images are casts made directly from the original clay models made by children of Central Primary School in Inverness. These children participated in a project where through a process of site visit, drawing and photography, design development and production in clay, they produced their own representations of what they believed to be important about the islands.

Substantial horizontal timber surfaces step back into the stonework, creating single and double tier seats that integrate closely into the movement of the work.

A line of crushed stone lies along the ground of the internal face, preventing worn and muddy surfaces. Within the space defined by the banks, are three sections of crescent shaped paving, up to a length of twelve metres each, and built from red sandstone and pink and grey granite. These have the effect of drawing and containing focus towards the centre of the site.

This design reinforces the combined sense of stillness and movement, as well as fulfilling the practicalities of function. It is a beautiful, fascinating, sacred space, of much richness through which new discoveries can be made with each visit.