I had a sudden desire the other day to go and find the “lookout” – an intriguing mirrored cabin designed a couple of years ago by architects Angus Ritchie and Daniel Tyler as part of the Scottish Scenic Routes initiative. We live on the edge of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park and, on our daily walks and drives about our environs I’ve come across a few of the other design projects created under the initiative (such as those at the Falls of Falloch and Inveruglas) but not seen this one.
Part of the reason for that is that the cabin blends so well into its surrounding landscape that it is actually quite difficult, at a first glance, to spot.
The cabin sits on the narrow grassy stretch of ground that divides Loch Voil from Loch Doine. From here, the views are pretty stunning, and the mirrored surfaces of the cabin reflect and frame these views, so that even when looking down the loch in one direction, you can still see what’s behind you.
Approaching the cabin, its distorted surfaces and reflections lend it a slightly spooky aspect. Dare you go inside? Might you emerge somewhere different if you do?
The cabin is sneakily designed so that, on approach, its surfaces seem pretty much continuous. For example, from this angle, a mirrored plinth conceals one of the tiny seating areas within.
There was no-one else about (at least when we stopped by) and sitting within the cabin is a curious experience – enclosed in this tiny space within the landscape, you immediately feel part of it. The space itself seems to prompt a different kind of looking.
And if you enjoy photography, the relationship between humans, animals, and reflective surfaces provides endless interest and amusement.
“Lookout” is my definite favourite of the design works that have been commissioned as part of the Scenic Routes initiative. It is tiny, unobtrusive – indeed almost invisible in its surroundings- but, once discovered its effect is dramatic and completely transformative. It’s a magic little portal that prompts a different kind of engagement and reflection on the stunning landscape it sits quietly within. I’m now trying to persuade Tom that what our garden really needs is a wee mirrored portal . . .
To find “lookout”, turn off the A84 between Callander and Lochearnhead towards Balquhidder. Follow the single track road along Loch Voil, and you’ll find the cabin on your left before you reach the Monachyle Mhor hotel.