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Oban marine science centre unveiled

November 24 2014

Oban marine science centre unveiled
Highlands and Islands Enterprise has officially unveiled the first phase of a new centre for marine science at Dunstaffnage, Oban.

Malin House provides 20,000sq/ft of office and laboratory space, part of a planned European Marine Science Park, designed to bolster aquaculture industries, renewable energy and science.

HIE chief executive Alex Paterson said: “The European Marine Science Park at Dunstaffnage brings together a number of businesses in Argyll and the wider Highlands and Islands which are at the forefront of developments in marine science, marine technology and aquaculture. EMSP is designed to enable new and expanding companies, as well as inward investors, the opportunity to locate to the region and further develop what is already a world-class centre of excellence in marine science.”

The ADF Architects build was backed by a £7.5m grant from HIE.
The building will play host to the largest collection of algae and protozoa in Europe
The building will play host to the largest collection of algae and protozoa in Europe
The project has been delivered with assistance from the European Regional Development Fund
The project has been delivered with assistance from the European Regional Development Fund


Bob, Agg & Williie
#1 Posted by Bob, Agg & Williie on 24 Nov 2014 at 15:09 PM
I hate to go against the grain of the inevitable UR readers' negativity, but this is a cracking looking scheme.
Not sure what it will look like with 3 buildings of pretty much exactly the same ilk aligned with one another, but if they're all executed to this level of quality, I look forward to seeing the finished product.
Nice one ADF
#2 Posted by james on 24 Nov 2014 at 15:19 PM
I have been here. it's good. This is architecture
with other nice buildings and good castle behind it.
#3 Posted by Mike on 25 Nov 2014 at 09:47 AM
I think it's a beautiful looking building. Shame the location is so remote. So many buildings of this quality are being tucked away in locations few people can appreciate them.
Clem Fandango
#4 Posted by Clem Fandango on 25 Nov 2014 at 12:25 PM
@Mike: I agree. It's high time the government moved Oban closer to where you live. It's a national disgrace.
#5 Posted by Mike on 25 Nov 2014 at 15:28 PM
@Clem Fandango - Yes I wholeheartedly agree. However I'm sorry you missed the point I was trying to make.
The undeserving
#6 Posted by The undeserving on 25 Nov 2014 at 19:19 PM
@Mike; I don't get your point, should rural locations not get well designed buildings? And by the way, Dunstaffnage is visible from the main road to Oban so seen by many visitors to the area and the isles...
#7 Posted by Mike on 26 Nov 2014 at 10:33 AM
@ The underserving

No of course im not suggesting rural areas shouldn't get well designed buildings.

My recent experience has seen many really high quality developments, like this one at Dunstaffnage, built in fairly isolated locations that few can appreciate them, for example business parks abandoned on the edge or out of town, many out of sight and out of mind. The new offices at the Bush Estate in Midlothian, The Michael Woods Sports Centre in Fife, The Housing Showcase village outside Inverness. More effort should be being made to introduce such high quality buildings within the main centres of the population, like in town centres for example. Had Highlands and Islands Enterprise developed the new centre for marine science on Oban's waterfront, for example around Lochavullin Road area, instead of continuously favouring out of town business parks then it would be better appreciated by more people.
The undeserving
#8 Posted by The undeserving on 26 Nov 2014 at 18:41 PM
@ Mike - Did you see how deep Lochavullin flooded last month?. There's rarely a large (and dry) plot comes free in a town centre that the public purse can afford. And of course planners arnt interested in offices/labs in town centres - they want footfall & commerce. I don't think we can therefore level criticism on HIE for siting a marine science centre at a marina on a main trunk road, adjacent to tourist amenities and within 5-10mins of the local town and ferry hub...
#9 Posted by Mike on 27 Nov 2014 at 10:01 AM
@The underserving - I respect your opinion but have to disagree completely. As a planner, I can assure you, that having offices in town centres is very much of interest to planners. The new town centres first policy in SPP is one example of the level of support being generated Nationally for co-location of employment and services in and adjacent to town centres.

Frankly, while there is a need for access to a marina for the lab, I think having to travel almost 4 miles out of the nearest major town to access a cluster of major employment facilities is unacceptable and unsustainable. It reeks of 1990's ethics for large out of town business parks accessible by car. Times have moved on.
The Undeserving
#10 Posted by The Undeserving on 27 Nov 2014 at 20:03 PM
Mike, So you're suggesting that when HIE bought the site, presumably a few years back, they should have instead
-preempted the 'towns first' policy that would come in years later and limited thier search to central Oban (ignoring synergies with the other research facilities in Dunstaffnage).
- buy out one of the businesses in the areas zoned for business/industry in the local plan: it's really only the builders merchant yards around Lochavullin that are of the scale needed, short of bumping out Calmac.
- build a nice building amongst the sheds and try to attract thier staff to work in a miserable industrial estate, hoping that this would eventually become something nicer and the builders merchants would be displaced elsewhere (maybe out of town).

I see now why you're being so hard on them, how could they not have had the foresight..? How irresponsible to choose a cracker of a site and look to attract staff to live and work in the area with the great views of the firth of lorn; staff that will not all live in Oban, but in a number of small settlements, spreading the impact of an influx of high value jobs to rural communities despirately needing that bolstering.

Town First needs planning first, and the funding stream to ensure the environmental changes needed to give investors the confidence to move into areas which currently look unpromising. Looking at the published LDP for Oban, there's no sign of the transformational change that might attract such confidence. Let's hope the council's new one, when it's eventually adopted, identifies some capacity in the town to attract such investment.
#11 Posted by Mike on 28 Nov 2014 at 07:29 AM
@The undeserving, I've clearly hit a nerve. You sound like you've had involvement in the project and if I've upset you with my opinionated views, then I apologise.

I still think creating such an important cluster of employment in this area, 4 miles outside oban, in the long term is unsustainable. Not least, what do you do with the buildings when they are no longer required or aren't fit for future purposes?

I do hope the future job creation in the area is better thought through and located in more accessible locations. Let's hope the planners and economic development officers can facilitate that.
the underserving
#12 Posted by the underserving on 28 Nov 2014 at 13:38 PM
no involvement with the project, just a resident of Argyll who's got rather fed up of clients getting lambasted for issues beyond their control when they've tried so hard and commissioned something of quality...
Dana Adler
#13 Posted by Dana Adler on 25 Apr 2015 at 12:19 PM
Having just read the conversation betweeen 'Mike' and 'The undeserving' posted in November, I just had to add my comment - I went to Oban last summer and heard about the Marine Studies Centre, which I resolved to visit. To get to dunstaffinage, you have to get an hourly bus from Oban, which drops you a mile from the business centre. The road was slightly dusty and rutted and was not a pleasant walk. If places like this want/need visitors, the builders should either put them nearer to towns, or ensure there is good public transport. Not everybody owns a car and some people can't even drive !!! Having said that, the visit was well worth the inconvenience (even the 2-hour wait for the next bus!),

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