The Living Building
Originally created in 1992, the Living Building is a uniquely rough and natural building designed to attract a variety of wildlife to live in and on it and to enable visitors to watch the birds and animals at close quarters.
The Living Building is not a zoo.
There are no captive animals here. However, a number of species have chosen to make it their home, including Long Eared Bats, Field Voles and Swallows. We have also had a family of Pine Martens in one of our specially constructed mammal dens.
The atmosphere is one of a quiet, shadowy woodland. The aim was to create an outdoor experience inside or as one visitor put it "a walk through wildlife without getting wet!"
The making of the living building....
The Living Building itself is built from locally grown timber, with turf on the roof, . A small plantation of non-indigenous sitka spruce and larch were felled allowing native broadleaves to regenerate on the cleared ground. The barks were simply scraped and the logs used in a fresh, unseasoned state.
Not only were the building materials local but so was the workforce. Tenders for the job were prohibitive so the Macgregors had little choice but to do it themselves. They make the proud boast that there is no plastic, melamine or fibreglass in the building - even the Wildcat Den is landscaped with local rocks, birch trees, mosses and bracken. Throughout the building, natural materials have been combined with the latest technology to create an authentic atmosphere.
In the "Nightwood" visitors are invited to use torches to explore the woodland at night. A variety of creatures are hidden in the shadows. As the torch beams falls on the owl, roebuck, fox etc. a light sensor triggers a digitised sound system to relay the creature’s call. This allows people to create their own experience. It’s dramatic and it's fun!
An ever changing display...
A pond has been dug out adjacent to the building and the margins planted to create a Highland Lochan. One section of the building has a deep glass panel overlooking the lochan so visitors are able to see above and below the water level and come eye to eye with tadpoles and newts. Thus we have encouraged an ever-changing display and a constant element of surprise.
Much of the exhibition is designed for children (of all ages!). Some activities, like the Wildcat Den are fun and exciting to crawl through. Others like "From little acorns...", a game matching trees with their seeds, or the 'seek and find' game, take a bit longer.
To complement the live and interactive exhibits we have a number of eye-catching illustrated panels that take the reader on a journey from Ardnamurchan's geological birth through the ancient oak woodlands, to the depths of Loch Sunart and the windswept uplands. The story of Man's role in shaping this wild landscape is carried throughout each board.
The theme continues in a short audio-visual presentation, which encapsulates the mood and mystery of Ardnamurchan. This production is a forum for local talents with a soundtrack specially recorded by a local musician accompanied by Gaelic singers.
We very much hope that the Living Building will act as an eye opener and encourage visitors to Ardnamurchan to go out and explore this beautiful country for themselves.