What I think Inverness needs, part 2

Inverness is in a striking location – at the mouth of the river Ness and northern end of the Caledonian Canal, which both flow into the Beauly Firth. Further afield are the ridges of the Great Glen, the hills of the Black Isle, dramatic mountains to the north-west, and out to sea to the east lie the Inverness and Moray Firths which boast lovely beaches and coastlines.

Not that you’d notice without going on a major hike into the hills or heading up in a plane. From ground level you struggle to fully take in the surroundings which are, at least in the areas close to Inverness.

So following my earlier post, the second thing I think Inverness needs is a tall, iconic and visionary tower.

Auckland has its Sky Tower, Seattle has its Space Needle, Paris has its Eiffel Tower, while Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, has nothing that really shows off its arguably more dramatic geographical location.

Why not have a big tower, that can be an icon and embodiment of the new, modern city that Inverness claims it is becoming? And imagine if, from the top of it, you could see (on a cloudless day, at least) all the way west up the Beauly Firth and beyond to the mountains towards the west coast; east along the Moray Firth to Chanonry Point, Fort George, the beaches of Nairn and beyond; south-east to the Cairngorms; and south-west right along the length of Loch Ness and the Great Glen to Ben Nevis.

Indeed, to get the perfect view of these points, the harbour front would be an ideal location. The sea front is a grand spot, and there have been several plans to regenerate it, including the new marina, to add to existing landmarks such as the Kessock Bridge. Putting a tower somewhere near the mouth of the harbour – would boost the regeneration of that area, which is largely industrial and run-down residential), and draw in visitors to a spectacular location.

Other than looking bold, striking and exciting, I’ve no idea what it would be like – that’s a matter for people with a better sense of design than me. But who knows, perhaps even with an ostentacious twin tower idea, you could create a dramatic bridge across the harbour mouth, linking the two sides of the city at the most northerly point.

A tower would immeasurably enhance Inverness’s skyline, and not only would it be far enough away from the Old Town not to overshadow the quaint riverside and city centre, it also wouldn’t need to be all that tall in order to achieve fantastic views.

Such a tower would, invariably, be expensive. But imagine the pull – sometimes, iconic buildings become bigger than the reputation of the city they are in, famous in their own right, a draw to tourists all by themselves. Think Edinburgh Castle, the Petronas Tower, the Eiffel Tower or the Burj Dubai.

Indeed, it would instantly become an hugely identifiable Scottish scene, on a par with and if not much greater than, the views of and from the Forth Bridges, Edinburgh’s Castle or Calton Hill, the Falkirk Wheel or the regenerated Clydeside in Glasgow. Depending on the accompanying development of the harbour front, it could be a major draw for inward investment and help Inverness in its continued development as a confident, modern city.

So there you go. A dramatic, iconic tower at Inverness harbour front. The second thing I think Inverness needs.

4 thoughts on “What I think Inverness needs, part 2

  1. What do you mean your next post is going to be controversial? What could possibly be more controversial than suggesting a big tower for Inverness – you’ve had the staff from all over the Inverness Planning Department reaching for their coffee pots……..

  2. You’d have to be extremely careful about the size and design of the tower. An out-of proportion and character building could just as easily destroy the appeal of Inverness. At the heart of truly great architecture will be a relationship to place and people, and I’m honestly not sure how you could get away with a tall building in Inverness. That site in particular would be handicapped by the locale having no heart/soul, and the hill (Ord Hill? I’ve been aaway too long…) on the other side of the bridge would necessitate a very tall building to provide the views north or north-east you are after. You’d need a building a few hundred feet tall, I reckon, and in a town with no other tall structures that isn’t going to work, no matter how striking the design.

  3. Justin, I am not sure it would need to be taller than Ord Hill (itself about 200m). I think the views west, south and east are more than enough, and beyond Ord Hill is perhaps less spectacular than simply being able to align the Beauly Firth, Moray Firth and Loch Ness. It would primarily be a way of showing off Inverness, not Invergordon.

    True the site has little heart/soul, but that’s being talked about. From things I’ve seen written, the harbour redevelopment is leading the way for offices, hotels, leisure facilities, and so on – which would include buildings taller than anything currently in Inverness anyway.

    My idea is simply to give that development an anchor, a signature, a bold focus.

    I agree the architecture would need to be in keeping with the spirit of the development, and of course the wider city and inner Moray Firth area, but I am sure that’s not beyond the wit of such people who know about designing such such things.

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