Viewing tower at RSPB Scotland Forsinard Flows wins at RIAs centenary celebration

Alan Tissiman

Friday 24 June 2016

The Peatlands Partnership recently celebrated the success of the Flows Lookout at a top architectural award ceremony in Edinburgh. The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Awards represents the very best in current Scottish architecture. The new innovative viewing tower built at RSPB Scotland's biggest nature reserve, Forsinard Flows in Sutherland, was named one of eleven best buildings of the year at these prestigious awards.

It was also commended in the Special Category Wood for Good/Forestry Commission Scotland Award for the Best Use of Timber, while the Peatlands Partnership was shortlisted in the Client of the Year Award category.

This success for Flows Lookout follows a recent commendation from the Edinburgh Architectural Association for the building.

The viewing tower, designed by Icosis architects of Edinburgh, and constructed by O'Brien Construction of Thurso, has also been winning plaudits from thousands of visitors to the reserve. It allows visitors to enjoy spectacular views of the unique internationally important landscape of the Flow Country.

Flows Lookout was built as part of the Flows to the Future project, which is also restoring seven square miles of damaged peatlands, updating the reserve visitor centre, and building a new field centre for researchers and volunteers. The project is being delivered by the multi-agency Peatlands Partnership.

Professor Stuart Gibb, Chair of the Peatlands Partnership, said, "This is great news for the project and for the area. Our ambition was to create something that would allow visitors and local people to immerse themselves in the landscape and really experience what is special about the Flow Country, in particular being able to view the bog pools systems that are so characteristic of it.

"We hope that people will come away from Forsinard with a much enhanced understanding of the international importance of the Flow Country for its amazing wildlife, for its importance as a carbon store helping mitigate climate change, and for its sheer beauty as a landscape."

Caroline Eccles, Flows to the Future Project Manager added, "On behalf of the project team I would like to congratulate Icosis for their well-deserved award. I would also like to thank our local contractor, O'Brien's Construction, for the superb job they did in building the Lookout. Designing and then erecting a structure like the tower in a peat bog is an extremely challenging assignment and Icosis and O'Brien's managed to deliver it while keeping disturbance to this sensitive habitat to an absolute minimum."

Euan Miller of Icosis architects, said, "We are very proud of this recognition from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. It was a great pleasure to work with the Peatlands Partnership and have the opportunity of working in such an amazing area. I very much hope that the Lookout continues to be enjoyed by visitors for many years to come."

The Flows Lookout and boardwalk have been funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland and the Highland Council, as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Flows to the Future Project.

The Flows to the Future project gratefully acknowledges funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.


Twitter @TheFlowCountry and #TheFlowCountry


Editor's notes:

The Peatlands Partnership includes Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission (Scotland), Highland Council, RSPB Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, The Highland Third Sector Interface, The Flow Country Rivers Trust, The Northern Deer Management Group and The Environmental Research Institute.

RSPB Scotland is the lead partner in The Flows to the Future project, a Peatlands Partnership project, which gratefully acknowledges funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and from the following funders and supporters; Environmental Research Institute, European Regional Development Fund, Forestry Commission (Scotland), Peatland Action, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Highland Council, RSPB, WREN, Scotland Rural Development Programme, Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage and The Tubney Trust.


Alan Tissiman RSPB Public Affairs Manager can be contacted on 01463 228810 or 07775 227614 or

Caroline Eccles Project Manager - Flows to the Future Project, working on behalf of The Peatlands Partnership, c/o North Scotland Regional Office, Inverness. 01463 715000, Mobile 07590 441475 or

Ian Mitchell, Secretary, The Peatlands Partnership, c/o Scottish Natural Heritage: Tel 01408 634063 or

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Topic: Reserves