Maxwell Wilson - Master of Architecture Stage 5

Image from Maxwell Wilson, Masters of Architecture project which shows a new gin distillery in Finstown, Orkney
Maxwell creates a horticulture facility with an adjoining gin distillery in the small community of Finstown in Orkney, with the aim of creating a sustainable, new industry for islanders.

23 year old Maxwell Wilson from the village of Lhanbryde, near Elgin in Moray, is in his fifth year studying a Master's in Architecture.

He was attracted to study at The Scott School of Architecture & Built Environment because Aberdeen offered a comfortable adjustment from his small village and a great way to 'test the waters’ of city life. The architecture course at Scotts was a big draw and a huge opportunity which he wanted to seize upon leaving Milne’s High School in Fochabers.

Maxwell’s Master’s project is part of the University’s Pomona framework for Finstown in Orkney which aims to revive the town and provide a sustainable community for islanders. As part of a group, he has created a horticulture facility to provide shelter from the harsh climatic conditions in Orkney.

Maxwell has created a greenhouse system, with a distillery, horticulture and residences. One would grow locally produced herbs and spices which would be used in an adjoining gin distillery. A third greenhouse would provide residential training which could help create jobs in the community. Each greenhouse would have its own unique requirements for heating and non-heated, open, and enclosed spaces and use timber boxes clad with thick layer of local stone, to absorb the Orcadian sunlight.

Architectural rendering of horticulture facility with an adjoining gin distillery exterior
Architectural rendering of horticulture facility with an adjoining gin distillery exterior

Maxwell explains more: “My greenhouse designs regulate the temperature so that they can slowly release back as the sun goes down. They appear as traditional stone masses that can absorb heat in the Winter that can then be used in the summer.  By doing this, the building itself becomes itself a living organism within the living landscape.

“As well as being sympathetic to the landscape, I’ve created a sustainable design that offers a new industry for the community and would bring jobs on the island. I’ve worked closely with the local community to achieve my project and it’s been really rewarding researching their needs and aspirations.

Maxwell has several highlights from the course including study trips to Rome and Venice. He also enjoyed designing and building furniture for real clients in his third year which he found one of the most rewarding experiences of the course.

Reflecting on his experience at RGU, Maxwell says: “I am delighted with my time at RGU. It has undoubtedly changed my perspective on architecture and the profession. Studying through the pandemic has been different, but as we have slowly transitioned back into contact teaching, it’s been great to see that certain things that have worked well, have been retained. The benefits of a mix of online/contact are evident, I am happy with how the course has adapted.

“The opportunities and recognition available in architecture is something great and different from anything I have done up until this point. Being able to partake in external activities, competitions, and exhibitions gives you something extra to aspire for.

“RGU and The Scott’s School of Architecture & Built Environment has really prepared me for going out into practice. Everything has been practical and helpful. I feel confident going out to look for work with everything I have learned.”

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