Life clings to the Outer Hebrides. This string of islands at the edge of Europe would be desolate, but for the tireless stewardship of their inhabitants. For centuries, the people of the archipelago have worked the land, the sea and the vague territory in-between. They have a healthy cynicism towards outsiders with outlandish ventures, which have ranged from extracting oil from peat, to mega-scale onshore wind-farms. These schemes led nowhere, but the economic winds have not left the Hebrides untouched.
Arnish Point, a short distance from the administrative centre of Stornoway, is a prime example. It once produced vast components for the oil and gas industries. Now, the fabrication yards churn out equally enormous wind turbine towers and wave power extractors. The resource hunger of our societies will not be abated, and they demand an ever-larger infrastructure. The next great surge will be in the demand for data storage, hosting and cloud computing. The Outer Hebrides, and the seas which surround them, will play their part in this next industrial epoch. But this story will not develop unprompted.
The islanders are reluctant to rely on tourism as the basis of their economy, though the cruise ships which visit Stornoway with increasing frequency can prove lucrative. The scheme outlined in this document is a modification of an existing masterplan for the area. It has been expanded to incorporate additional manufacturing and commercial space, and a centrepiece technology centre which will organically replace the current Arnish Point fabrication facility. The centre will combine production and research program with exhibition and onward transit spaces for the tides of tourists. The town itself will be freed from intrusive infrastructure, preserving its character. But visitors will also be exposed to the spectacle of the industrial hinterland which supports our society.