Bottoms Up

Scottish Distillery Expansion Takes Team Underground

 
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PHOTO COURTESY OF MACALLAN DISTILLERY

The Macallan Distillery in Easter Elchies, Craigellachie, Scotland

Macallan Distillery is no stranger to expansion: The whiskey producer started as a wooden shed in 1824 and has regularly moved into larger spaces and built additions to keep pace with demand. For the most recent expansion project, completed in May after 3.5 years and with a budget of £140 million, the distillery leaders knew that replacing the small stills for larger models might compromise the whiskey's taste. So the only option was the build a distillery with a larger footprint. Yet the chosen project site was in an area designated for its landscape value, meaning the project plan shouldn't disrupt the surrounding views.

To maintain the view while still building the necessary interior space, the project team went underground: They buried part of the distillery in a slope and then created an undulating wooden roof that mimics the rolling Scottish hills—complete with live grass and wildflowers. The roof's 380,000 interlocking wooden pieces fit together so precisely that no glue, nails or other adhesives are needed to keep it together. The finished project provides unobstructed views of the nearby Easter Elchies House (built in 1700), as well as satisfying every production requirement the project team had hoped for. “The vision was always ambitious,” project lead Graham Stirk, of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, told Dezeen. “But this enabled us to challenge our own thinking to create something so dramatic and awe-inspiring.”

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