Student’s degree show project shows how north-east ruin could be used as a Northern Lights viewing platform and whisky bar

Date posted

20 May 2019


A north-east ruin known locally as the ‘Cup and Saucer’ has the potential to be transformed into one of the country’s leading tourist attractions according to an award-winning Edinburgh Napier University student. 

Situated close to the main A98 road between the towns of Portsoy and Cullen, the ‘Cup and Saucer’ has become well-known with locals, with the remains of what was an early windmill being a feature of the north-east landscape for a number of years. Student Amy McLeod

However, thanks to the work of an interior and spatial design student as part of her exhibit at the Edinburgh Napier Degree Show, the spotlight has fallen on the ruin once again. 

Student Amy McLeod – from Buckie – has recognised the ruin’s potential with a unique design that could see it transformed into a viewing platform for the Northern Lights. 

The attraction – which would sit as part of the new North East 250 tourist route if developed – would also pay homage to the nearby Glenglasssaugh Distillery with an underground whisky bar, giving visitors a chance to take shelter from the elements or a space to wait until the Aurora Borealis appeared. 

Taking centre stage in the attraction will be a unique angular staircase. Made from industrial materials that take inspiration from the whisky barrel making process, the staircase links the underground bar to the viewing platform located at the top of the host building’s tower.  

Amy’s design for the space scooped the Best in Show Award for the Interior and Spatial Design programme at the launch of Edinburgh Napier’s Degree Show last week (Thursday 16 May). 

The ruin that features in her design is believed to date back to the mid-18th century, with the windmill built on the site of a large burial cairn. The scheduled monument is currently up for sale and Amy hopes that by highlighting its potential, a buyer won’t be far away.

Amy's design...

She said: “Growing up in Buckie and the surrounding area, I’ve always been aware of the Cup and Saucer, passing it on a number of occasions while driving to Portsoy, often for ice cream in the summer months. 

“The site combines three things for which Scotland is known – a stunning sea view, uninterrupted sight lines of the sky and beautiful land all around so it ticked a lot of boxes when it came to selecting a site for my final year project at Edinburgh Napier. 

“My design has pushed my creative thinking – designing the stairs was a particular hard task – but I really wanted to challenge the boundaries between interiority and exteriority. I’ve always been interested in user-focused design and the materials I have chosen, the way the new building embraces different light levels and its overall perception of space have all been finalised with the visitor’s experience in mind. 

“The main spaces developed within the scheme include a light adjustment experience, a bar area and the main observation platform, with the spaces intended to be utilised in this order.

“The light adjustment experience firstly allows the users to be acclimatised to the dark in a controlled environment which aids in preparing them for the best possible viewing experience of the Northern Lights. I wanted to help create a memorable experience for people visiting.

“I obviously can’t guarantee that the Northern Lights will appear every night, but the north-east benefits from very low light pollution so the stars and the Milky Way are often on show on clear nights. I suppose this project is my way of shining a spotlight on how harmful the spread of light pollution to rural areas such as this could be – it’s important the sky is preserved for generations to come.

“The north-east has so much to offer in terms of tourism and things to do, as well as being one of the best areas in Scotland to view the Northern Lights so if the Cup and Saucer site was developed into something like my idea, I think it could be a great addition to what is already a special part of the country.

“The site is currently up for sale so if this project helps find a buyer, along with helping me achieve my degree, then it’s definitely all been worthwhile.”

Amy’s project along with hundreds of others are on display as part of the Edinburgh Napier Degree Show which is being held at the University’s Merchiston campus from 17-24 May. 

Edinburgh Napier Degree Show 2019

Our annual showcase of the creative talent from our School of Arts & Creative Industries.