Student’s plan in case floods come to Capital

The Forth Bridge is partly submerged in Wynne McLeish's winning sketch. Picture: contributed
The Forth Bridge is partly submerged in Wynne McLeish's winning sketch. Picture: contributed
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IT may be the last refuge when floods engulf Edinburgh – let’s all move to the Forth Bridge.

Edinburgh College of Art master of architecture student Wynne McLeish, 23, scooped top spot for her “fantasy” drawing in a competition aimed at painting a picture of Scotland affected by climate change.

Her images were among a range of radical building concepts offered by students, including a skyscraper with tentacles designed to absorb rain and snow, a “buoy” city built to accommodate heavy flooding and a coastal longhouse that doubles as a sea defence.

Wynne, who is in the second year of her course, said: “As the brief specified Scotland as the location, I began by identifying our most iconic landmarks.

“It’s hard to think of another famous bridge that’s quite so prominent – I was also looking for areas of high land that could possibly be inhabited. The idea would be that people could live in the bridge itself and use it as a main structure, then have jutting-out piers.”

Students were given just 48 hours last weekend to produce their drawing – or esquisse, as the sketches are known – as part of the competition held by The Royal Commission on
 the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).

The competition harks back to the 1930s and 40s, when learning how to present a design concept in this pictorial way was an important part of the curriculum at art colleges across Scotland.

Wynne’s entry was praised by the judging panel – which included renowned conservation architect Dr James Simpson OBE – for combining elements of fantasy with practical responses to a challenging environment.

“The speed element of the competition attracted me,” she said.

“And having the liberty to design without thinking about planning or costings enabled me to have fun with creating a proposal that was based on pure design.

“Part of architecture is sketching as part of the design process, but because computer-generated images are now becoming the norm, the basic, hand-drawn sketches are being overshadowed.”

Her winning design will now be exhibited by RCAHMS and added to Canmore – Scotland’s national collection of buildings, archaeology and industry.

RCAHMS staff said they were “delighted and surprised” by the response to the brief, and have revealed their aim is to continue the competition next year and extend it to include all art colleges in Scotland.

Organiser Kayleigh Russell, a trainee at RCAHMS, said: “It’s fantastic to see that these skills are still alive and flourishing today.”

She added: “Although architectural education has changed over the years, it has always been important for architects to dream and experiment.”