A dram fine roof

THE new Macallan distillery and visitor centre has been unveiled in Speyside, with a striking timber roof structure claimed to be one of the most complex in the world.

Situated on the Easter Elchies estate, the £140 million project was delivered by infrastructure firm Robertson and designed by architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. The distillery acts as the centrepiece of spirits giant Edrington’s £500 million investment in the Macallan malt whisky brand.

Inspired by the hills of Scotland, the structure is cut into the slope of the land, with an undulating timber roof structure comprising 1,750 timber beams, with 2,500 cassettes to support the roof’s natural meadow roof covering. The roof is made up of box panels and the frame is comprised of solid structural timber and the top sheathing of oriented strand board.

Overall, the roof has 380,000 individual roof components and is the end result of a full year’s work using parametric modelling software to define complex geometry. 5,000 lifts and four mobile cranes were required to install the structure. The overall construction is mounted on a secondary steel frame, which rests on a concrete floor slab.

The roof follows the architectural grid of 3×3 metres and the beams are segmented according to and following their linear inclination to the dome.

Green roof supplier and installer Sky Garden assisted in the design of the roof and supplied the wildflower finish. The firm won the ‘Green Roof of the Year’ award at the UK Roofing Awards 2017 for its work on the project.

Austrian timber firm WIEHAG was responsible for the construction, timber engineering, production, logistics and assembly of the entire roof area of 12,300 sq. m. The domed roof stretches over a length of 207-metres. The whisky production facility is located under four domes, while the visitor centre is under the fifth.

WIEHAG owner and CEO, Erich Wiesner commented, “We have been successful in the UK for over 20 years and have been able to execute many innovative projects. The Macallan Distillery is the most complicated engineered timber roof construction in the world.

“The advantage of wooden constructions is particularly noticeable in wide-span buildings. For this complex project, we needed a new approach and opted for a parametric design to realise the complex geometry.”

Bill Robertson, founder and executive chairman at Robertson added, “This once-in-a-lifetime project is one that Robertson has been honoured to be a part of. The complexity of the construction work required a huge effort from various teams within our business, and their passion and dedication for the project is clear when you see the completed distillery and visitor centre.

“Throughout, we have placed great emphasis on understanding The Macallan’s vision for their Speyside home and there has been a real spirit of collaboration between us and all other partners. We congratulate The Macallan and hope visitors to the area enjoy this world class distillery.”