Hospital woodland competition unveils winning design

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15 AUGUST 2012NEWS RELEASE No: 15604

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Forestry Commission Scotland, NHS Forth Valley and Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS) today revealed the winning design for a permanent loch-side viewing platform in the woodlands next to Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

The creation of the viewing platform on the banks of Larbert Loch will mark the next phase in the development of the community woodlands that are being transformed into a “green oasis” for patients, staff, visitors and local residents.

The winning design, chosen from more than 31 entries, is by George Watt and Stewart Architects of Aberdeen and will provide an attractive wooden viewing platform and seating. 

The competition was designed to encourage small and emerging architects and engineers to work more with Scottish timber. 
Kevin Lafferty, National Health Policy Advisor with Forestry Commission Scotland, said:

“We've been working hard with NHS Forth Valley and a number of partners to create a welcoming woodland resource right on the doorstep of the new hospital.

“We are keen that the local community, visitors, NHS staff and patients can all get the chance to use this fantastic natural asset for more exercise or to simply de-stress and enjoy some relaxation.

"The wooden viewing platform at Larbert Loch will be a focal point for people visiting the woodland. The design is brilliant, very modern and in keeping with the environment. People of all ages and abilities will be able to enjoy using it and take in the tranquil woodland atmosphere.

"The timber industry has worked closely with the NHS and Forestry Commission Scotland to deliver this viewing platform to showcase the versatility of using Scottish timber in modern construction.”

The design makes reference to the historic use of the site and will be built on the foundations of a former boathouse. Visitors will enjoy views of the Larbert church tower and the island in the loch to the east. Its position and construction will allow sunlight to be filtered through the fins that form the walls, casting constantly changing shadows.

The timber for the platform has been donated by James Jones and sons Ltd, which has its head office in Larbert. Peter Wilson, Director of Wood Studio at Edinburgh Napier University, acted as head judge for the competition. Work on the platform will begin at the end of October 2012 with a planned completion date of 31st March 2013.

Tom Steele, NHS Forth Valley Director of Strategic Projects and Property, said: “Woodland areas provide peaceful surroundings in which to escape and enjoy the therapeutic effect of nature.

“The addition of the viewing platform providing access to the loch’s edge is great news for patients who require gentle exercise as well as staff, visitors and the community in general who have been supportive of the project from the outset.

“We hope these peaceful surroundings will encourage more people from the hospital and wider community to enjoy physical activity, recreation, recuperation and relaxation.”

Eric Appelbe, Convener, Larbert, Stenhousemuir&Torwood Community Council, said:

“It is wonderful that the NHS want this woodland area to be not only accessible but a properly managed resource that will continue to improve in the months to come.

“Forestry Commission Scotland and the Central Scotland Forestry Trust have already done a vast amount of work to clear the area, construct paths and place benches around the loch. The Community Council welcomes the viewing platform initiative and we are very pleased with the way that the project and design competition has been conducted to date. We are now looking forward to the construction phase.”

Last year, the Commission and NHS Forth Valley joined forces with Central Scotland Forest Trust and Falkirk Council to transform the hospital’s woodlands for the benefit of the patients, staff, visitors and community.

Rhododendrons were cleared to expose a large natural pond, while new benches, picnic areas and pathways will be completed by September 2012.

Earlier this month, the Commission announced the launch of a woodland rehabilitation programme for cardiac patients at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. A number of other woodland events for staff and the wider community are planned.

Notes to Editors

1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government’s Environment & Forestry Directorate

2.  For news, events and recreation information log on to or

3.   Tha FCS agobair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridhcoilltearachdRiaghaltasna h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactaireanann an OighreachdnaCoilleNàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumailsmachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coillteangusbuannachdan a thoirtdhacoimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidhagus, agobair an aghaidhatharrachadhgnàth-shìde.

4. The Forth Valley Hospital community woodlands project is jointly funded by Forestry Commission Scotland’s Woods In and Around Towns (WIAT) challenge fund, which gives financial support to woodland owners to improve their woods for the benefit of communities, and NHS Forth Valley.

5. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.