@what3words: Coordinates for #DunansCastle in three words, include fragment.curly.firebird and cups.domestic.inventors

Postcodes and GPS coordinates are, let’s face it, complex and easy to get wrong – particularly when you are trying to remember them to put them into your satnav / maps / google maps. The What3words app is the answer. I know without looking at the title of this post that the coordinate for the drivehead at Dunans is fragment.curly.firebird. The postcode covers at least three other houses and the GPS, well, I am just not sure. But a mirror image of a phoenix with curly feathers ripped in half, means that whenever someone needs an accurate location, I have it to hand, immediately…  Similarly, I have a visual image of a bunch of guys in lab coats, in a kitchen, drinking tea back to front … genius, particularly as they’re in the castle when they are doing it.

With 40,000 words and consequently 57 trillion combinations, the world can be covered in three metre squares, or the size of the average room. And it is all so memorable. So for example here’s one I particularly love which identifies a place I often have to meet newcomers to the glen in – flukes.reports.unicorns. However, I am not sure the committee would approve – but then I do have a mental image of a narwhal reading a paper inside out?!

For balance I should just add sheep.conga.pleaser … !

Journey to the Heart of #DunansCastle: The Old Library

We’ve recently heard crashes and rumbles from the old building, and so today I set myself the task of finding out what was going on. The obvious culprit was the chimney stack at the back of the castle. But the small apertures now appearing, while a problem for the chimney stack itself, would not a cacophony make.

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As you’ll know we are presently working on the plans for the building, and much of the internal structure will be removed, so our only real concern is if the exterior is compromised. Externally it looks fine, but a fuller inspection was indicated.

So I went inside. To find the old library filled to head height with rubble, joists, plaster and shelving. I should add here, that I have an ulterior motive to this scouting about: at some point in the next week or so, I’ll be taking our minidigger into the structure to begin the mammoth task of clearing the castle out – the sort of job all men love, combining a good tidy up, including bonfire, with a good dose of danger!

IMG_3933As you can see from the photo above, the shelving is still in situ, but the blackened joists from the floors above have now all fallen in.

IMG_3934When you look up you begin to see how dangerous this structure is.

At the very top, in the chimney, is the double hole showing the side-by-side flues. Below that two door apertures, with spindly floor joists between – these would have been the joists which held up the floor to the chapel.

Below the first storey door, you then find the tops of the library shelves, which swiftly descend into all the materials which have fallen into this compartment of the castle both during the fire and after. Slate, plaster, lath, and stone is all visible and expected. The bracken and saplings are also present throughout the ruin.

What I didn’t expect (and therefore didn’t get a photo of) were the trio of bumblebees buzzing about the wall to the right of this picture – see the photo below which gives an idea of the scale of the internal structure, and an idea of the structures sheer immovability.

The apertures into the flues are very visible at the top of this picture. The flues are vulnerable in this way because of the weathering action of rain combined with the sulphur and other volatiles from years of coal and wood burning.

I’ll post photos from another ‘room’ shortly.

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*With apologies to Joseph Conrad.

 

Finalised Draft of Our Plans for Dunans Castle: Elevated highlights!

We have just posted the full pdf of the draft plans into our archive on the Dunans Rising App, as well as the Lairds and Ladies website. We’re delighted with the results and wanted to share three screen grabs of the highlights …

The first is the plan for the first storey:

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This is an important evolution because the exit at the back of the building allows us to use both the first and ground floors each for 100 guests. This capacity is critical in making the building sustainable.

The fire escape creates what we think is a really interesting intervention in the rear elevation of the castle – particularly so because the spiral stair will mirror the internal one.

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Without the stair, in its original format, the building is only prevented from seeming weighted to the lefthand side by the wonderful Russian Vine which masks the effect. With the escape we think the elevation now looks much more ‘grounded’. And of course the balustrade on the platform will mirror the one on the roof!

The roof itself, provides the third grab and one of the most delicious prospects in the revitalised castle – a roof terrace. finalroof

One of the disadvantages of living in Scotland during the winter is the lack of light. Dawn can be as late as 9am and dusk as early as 3.30pm. A roof terrace coupled with the cupola, sending light deep into the building’s interior will create a winter-proof building which will be a delight to use.

These plans provide for three self-catering apartments accommodating up to 14 and two floors of event space which in turn means that the building will be sustainable far into the future.

Obviously these are draft plans, and subject to all the usual reservations about things changing, but they provide us with two things: a concrete costing to base our projects on with regard to finance and funding; and a definite vision of how this building will be used – a vision we think will be realised in shorter order than we thought even 6 months ago!

 

Sculpture at Dunans: Andy McClintock exhibits at Dunans throughout 2015

This year we are proud to be exhibiting several pieces by Andy McClintock in the grounds. The sculptures are ranged around our path network as well as inside the castle, for visitors to stumble upon at unexpected junctures. We’re presently developing signage for the exhibit and will have it in place for our opening at the beginning of April.

And the poster for this year:

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Lairds and Ladies Website: Revamped and new content added

We’ve just implemented some long overdue changes to the Lairds’ and Ladies’ website, and more are on the way.

We’ve changed the look, creating a website that uses the same template as the ScottishLaird.com website, but darker (to distinguish it). This is Desktop, tablet and mobile friendly. We’re still working on this, so treat it as a draft …

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We’ve added two new pages as well:

  1. Our plot finder is now part and parcel of the website, and easily accessible.
  2. We’ve created a Tour gallery, where Lairds and Ladies can upload their own photos of visiting Dunans and going on the tour… We’ve put some of our own photos up there already – see if you can spot yourself!!

The next part of the revamp is to include some exclusive content. Our plan is to publish the pdfs and documents that the renovation and refurbishment of Castle and Bridge has occasioned. Much of this you’ll have seen in abbreviated form via newsletters and blog posts here, but this is the full detail.

We’re also getting ready to welcome our new Lairds and Ladies of Dunans Bridge from our ongoing IndieGoGo campaign, as well as trying to streamline our email registration process…

Adorning one’s one square foot: delightful model castle with draw-bridge and two turrets

We have had lots of great moments with Lairds and Ladies when they come to visit their plot of land. Often they will want to leave a marker, or tribute, or ‘development’: we’ve had the flags of most nationalities, we’ve had farmyard animals, we’ve even had a red Monopoly hotel – but today we had one of the most creative …

IMG_2232 IMG_2234If you are a Laird or Lady and want to take the tour and visit your plot of land, please click here for more details!

 

Dunans and the Seaplane: Loch Lomond Seaplanes fly us over Dunans on a perfect day for photos!

Today we had a marvellous outing courtesy of Sadie. For my birthday last year my darling wife gave me a jaunt in the Loch Lomond Seaplane. Well, today we finally got to go. It was a truly brilliant day out, and the highlight was of course circling Dunans in the morning sunlight before going off for lunch at Loch Voil. We thoroughly recommend this as a great way of seeing Argyll and especially Cowal which on the right day is spectacular!

Who knew? Its our flag at the end of the rainbow – not a pot of gold!

Need say no more than look at this great pic taken by Sue this afternoon!

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Castle imaged in extraordinary detail: First image from 3D laser scanner by AOC!

Dunans_0008_smlAOC have just posted a picture of their survey online: here it is and this is what they say about their work:

To fully understand the building and aid the restoration process, AOC was commissioned to undertake a detailed measured survey of the building comprising elevation drawings and floor plans (as much as these could be gained from the present access). By using a 3D laser scanner to complete the work, AOC’s team were able to complete the survey in a single day. 33 scans were completed in total with a final sampled pointcloud of 75 million points, creating a wonderful 3D image of the castle’s exterior. The problems with access to the interior were also partially overcome as the laser managed to shoot through the roofless entrance lobby and upper level windows to identify the basic floor plan; even internal features such as second floor fireplaces were identified, now hanging in mid-air after the collapse of the floor beams within. The survey was accompanied by over 900 high-resolution digital photographs of the external features of the castle to aid the survey and create a detailed record for use during the restoration programme.

To learn more about AOC please visit them here.

Puffballs, Bats and Statements of Requirement: Building Momentum at Dunans this August

IMG_1697While the last couple of weeks have included a well-earned break, we have also been working hard on the next stage of the Dunans project. In fact, if truth be told, the whole thing is rather taking off!!

The image shows what look like puffball mushrooms on the main lawn at Dunans, but are in fact essential placemarkers for the laser survey AOC carried out on Thursday. The results of which we’ll post as soon as possible.

The same day, well, evening we had the first of our ecological surveys, with 6 bat spotters onsite until 11 pm, recording all the bats that spin about our belfry!

And this Friday, myself, Robin (our architect) and Sadie went through statement of requirements for castle and ScottishLaird office. These are essential pre-requisites before the designing of space begins – a design which will use the laser survey as its basis.