Highlands' First Modern Tartan Weaving Mill Plans Unveiled

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Saturday June 9 2018

Students at Inverness College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, have designed the plans for the Highlands’ first modern tartan weaving mill.

Clare Campbell (pictured with students), founder of tartan design studio Prickly Thistle, challenged students studying the university’s BSc (Hons) Architectural Technology to come up with plans to convert her disused farm steading on the Black Isle into a mill which celebrates her vision and the heritage of the Highlands.

Final year students on the course were split into four ‘clans’ and each created designs and plans ready for Highland Council approval.

The students visited the site, developed concepts and met Clare and her client team.

The bespoke designer chose a sympathetic design which celebrates the rich fabric of the Highlands but also aligns with her rebellious instincts, with an atmospheric wing design to the north creating a dramatic entrance to the building.

Students Rory MacFarlane, Martyn Donaldson, Andrew Maggs, Stuart Miller and Ryan Nelson created the winning design.

The plans will now be submitted to Highland Council for full planning permission and building warrant consent.

Ross Cairns, programme leader for the BSc (Hons) Architectural Technology, said:

“Using the architectural brief from Clare, which was unapologetically about creating a rebellious reaction to the reintroduction of tartan weaving to the Highlands, the winning team developed their ideas from a deep connection with this ideal.

“They gave the building a contemporary feel with features such as a dark mysterious elevation to the north, while retaining some of the original features, like the polished cobbled floor, which will be insulated and immersed in a smooth polished clear finish.

“I am very proud of what they have achieved.

“We pride ourselves on the employability of our graduates and it is ‘live’ projects like this that really give our students the edge when it comes to getting a job.

“Every year we work on real-life projects with employers but this one is particularly exciting to be involved in because of the impact it will have on the future of the region’s textile industry.”

Clare Campbell, founder of Prickly Thistle, said: 

“It was a real pleasure working with Ross and his students who, while still completing their studies, engaged with us in an entirely professional way.

“They also came with truly innovative solutions that we would never have envisaged at the outset – it’s fantastic that this resource is available in our local university.”

Clare launched a successful ‘Build the Mill’ crowdfunding campaign in early 2018 to help bring the students’ design to reality and at the same time bring tartan weaving back to its traditional Highland home.

She has since secured a temporary pop-up mill for the in-house manufacturing of her bespoke tartan, while the development of the farm steading takes place.

She intends to continue raising the remainder of the £250,000 needed to complete the project once full planning consent has been achieved.

The mill could be fully operational by January 2020.

Previous ‘live’ projects students have worked on include a Homes for Heroes development in Inverness, a new shelter and experience centre for Loch Ness by Jacobite at Brackla, a control building for the West Link road project and a commercial building to revitalise Inverness Marina.

To find out more about Clare’s project, visit https://pricklythistlescotland.com/

For more information about Inverness College UHI, or the BSC (Hons) Architectural Technology course, visit www.inverness.uhi.ac.uk



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