Genesis Of A Museum: Museum Of Scotland
Gordon Benson (Benson + Forsyth LLP)


The Museum From The North West

©Monica Pidgeon

The Museum of Scotland: I'd like to discuss some of the issues which we found on the site but initially I'd like to talk about the ideas which we brought to the project. The story begins 190 million years ago during the Permian period and at that time Scotland was located just north of the Equator and the climate was similar to the Sahara Desert. Dinosaurs were walking across the sand leaving imprints, and the sand dunes themselves were formed by drifting and were laid down by wind. This had a number of consequences. It meant they were not sedimentary and it means that the stone, the sandstone which emerged from that, bore the imprint of the fossils of the dinosaurs, and the stones could be laid in any direction. Because they were not sedimentary and laid down in layers, they could be cut wither vertically or horizontally. Which meant that we could extract from this stone, which we found up in the Moray Estuary, very, very large stone indeed. We knew that the museum would have to have very large areas of essentially blank wall and, as a way of enriching that, we could use the natural figure of the stone itself.


The Natural Figure Of The Stone

©Helene Binet

Obviously the building has a grid. It is built on a 7.5 metre module - but we didn't want to expose that on the outside of the building, or indeed on the inside of the building, until it related both to the building story and the exhibition story, effectively in the 18th century. And so, on the exterior of the building we use randomly-coursed vertically stones and random length of stone (which was the convention of all the major public building in Edinburgh) and that you don't actually read the module.

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