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Arts / Plans lodged for ‘Pilgrim Stones’ installation in Foula

A visualisation of what the installation would look like. Image: Kevin Kelly Architects

THE PLANNING process is underway for a new architectural installation in Foula which is said to be a “harmonious blend of innovation and tradition”.

The timber installation, called The Pilgrim Stones and designed by London-based architect Kevin Kelly, would also act as a shelter for visitors.

Temporary planning permission is being sought for three years.

The team behind the project also wish to use local tradesmen where possible.

They said any locals with some joinery experience or flat pack furniture assembly who would like to assist with the May/June installation should get in touch via studio@kevinkellyarchitects.com.

The installation was commissioned following a nationwide design competition led by footwear brand Merrell to inspire native travel and act as a place of solace in solitude for walkers.

A planning statement said the project “seeks to encapsulate the essence of pilgrimage and reflection through a modern architectural lens”.

It added: “With a design that reveres the sparse, untamed nature of Foula, the initiative aims to forge a sheltered enclave for visitors, harmoniously embedded within the island’s profound natural beauty.”

Located on a four metre by four metre plot at Mucklegrind on the island, it would be made out of blackened cross-laminated timber (CLT).

This would allow for a “modular construction that echoes the island’s natural rock formations while offering a striking visual contrast”, the planning document says.

The applicant also said there would be careful planning, community engagement and a “profound respect for the island’s ecological and cultural integrity” through the process.

Shetland’s regional archaeologist Dr Val Turner said the proposed stricture is in an area where several archaeological sites have been recorded.

“Therefore it will be necessary for a professional archaeologist to carry out a walkover survey and desk-based assessment prior to determination in order to determine whether this can be accommodated without damaging any archaeology,” she wrote in response to the planning application.

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Architect Kelly said the project originally began with stone in mind, but has evolved into timber.

“This shift isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a thoughtful response to the unique challenges of building in one of the UK’s most remote landscapes,” he told Shetland News.

“By embracing timber, we’ve not only navigated logistical hurdles but also drawn deeper connections with Foula’s natural beauty. “

Foula lies 20 miles off Shetland’s West Mainland and is described as one of Britain’s most remote inhabited islands.

The island, which has a population of around 30, can be accessed by a two-hour ferry or a flight from Tingwall Airport.

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