A Place for The Mundane to Reach the Monumental.


Building a beacon to mental wellbeing and escape on a remote Scottish Island - Enjoy the fact that the beacon is made using reclaimed material salvaged from workplace demolition. Chuckle at the symbology of our everyday objects of servitude, stress and strain that have evolved collectively as an object promoting adventure, acknowledgment and mindfulness.


Now and then, I find it is a valuable exercise to engage in design competitions, it is a fun way to explore ideas within a deadline. This was done a few weekends ago using PowerPoint and an old block of wood. I would like to share it. It wasn't what the competition was looking for, however, I think it has merit with regards to approach and meaning. At first glance, it is a 3m x 3m x 3m solid block of wood with a hole bored through it, located on a beautiful remote Scottish island packed with smart city technologies. It is more than that though...


The competition brief which was set by Mind (empowering, enabling social participation and removing inequality of opportunity) and Merrel (sharing the simple power of being outside with everyone), is an interesting collaboration of approach, I think you'll agree.


I thought it would be interesting and fun to submit an entry exploring the use of timber elements in society's everyday working lives. The things that punctuate the actions necessary to facilitate one’s way of life. To build a structure built from tables, doors, floors and walls etc – re-using the retired or broken everyday objects of social conformism to fashion a beacon amplifying the resilience of humanity and its place in nature. Many have to spend time at work, dealing with the stresses and strains of life, whilst wishing for adventure, acknowledgement, autonomy, and calm. Therefore, it feels important to take time to recognise working life commonalities, constraints, and aspirations when we can.


I took the position that a beacon meant ‘a light or other visible object serving as a signal, warning, or guide – a marker to a peaceful haven away from the stresses and strains of modern life”. A place anyone can visit and experience (physically or virtually), a truly inclusive beacon.


I designed what I hoped to be a beguiling structure, an inspirational destination to visit for the lucky few able to get to Foula And also a meaning-filled destination for people confined to a work context, on a bus or at home ( A place you can view from a hospital, prison anywhere really ..). A mode of escape, a place to relax and ‘take5’ put your headphones on and listen to the sea, wind and local wildlife. At any time day or night all are welcome to check in and view the environment or check the beacon’s information (climate, visitor, wildlife, environment, astral, social and cultural). Watch as it slowly weathers, and endures the elements and the seasons. Smile as we watch like-minded people visit and interact with it. Enjoy the fact that the beacon is made using reclaimed material salvaged from workplace demolition. Chuckle at the symbology of our everyday objects of servitude (such as office desks, shop doors, filing combinates, storage cupboards, partitioning, retail flooring and canteen counters (timber salvage) have become a mode of adventure and mindfulness.


I imagined the Beacon as a solid structure with a void, it’s size, scale and mass will impress its visitors. You can climb through, sit on or mark it, it offers shade from the sun and shelter from the wind, over time it will grow moss on its northern face and its southern face will bleach from the sun, the prevailing winds and salt air will shape it. Birds will perch, snails and spiders will explore, and sheep might investigate. It’s a structure to camp, play music and tell stories next to. A place to rest against, to photograph, film or draw. A destination to stimulate mindfulness and amplify the presence of things, nature, and oneself.


I hope I have explored the Creation of a place for the mundane to reach the monumental.


A shared beacon regardless of location, circumstance or privilege,


A locus Amoenus amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life


Take care


Frazer Macdonald Hay



ps. This was the winner of the comp - congratulations Keven Kelly Architects