Architecture of the Rural Gaze: Redefining building in rural Scotland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The rural can be defined in many ways, and almost as a studied state of mind where physical location might be immaterial. Popular conceptions of the rural remain very much as the urban ‘other’. Whilst the urban is the realm of human endeavour, the rural often labours under the expectation of presenting itself as unspoilt and unsullied. Just as our sense of ‘the north’ remains always out of our grasp and over the horizon, so the promise of the rural to sustain us never quite materialises.

This chapter asks the question how we can intervene and build in landscapes where both through a sense of the sublime. How we build in what are seen as rural locations often misfire as timid and derivative, devoid of the very meaning their vernacular style would like to suggest. As a response, a series of contemporary rural buildings are used to describe how the landscape through the device of the 'tourist gaze' can be engaged. Rather than dwelling on questions of style, rural design is imagined as a series of narrative techniques, as a means to establish frameworks for visitor development. Whilst these are rooted in the land, they question constructions of the landscape image as an arbiter of change.

The building stories contained in the paper address in turn the issues of landscape and community. In this, a compact between often idealised constructions of nature and the way our buildings change the social and cultural frameworks around them. It is hoped these practices might help disengage what we think of as rural from our controlling preconceptions of authenticity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRurality Re-imagined
Subtitle of host publicationVillagers, Farmers, Wanderers and Wild Things
EditorsBen Stringer
PublisherApplied Research + Design Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)978-1-940743-34-9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


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  • Untouchable Rurality?

    Brennan, J., 2015.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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