Our competition winning proposal for the development of the facilities at Hill House was based on observations relating to the site, and to the particular conditions associated with providing domestic environments as a visitor attraction. The gardens of Hill House are characterised by a stratified subdivision of space, created with an ordered, linear arrangement of hedges. The Blackhill Plantation to the rear of the site acts as a large natural barrier, a hedge of sorts that encloses the town of Helensburgh from the heathland terrain beyond; effectively the southern edge of the Highlands. These physical boundaries, and the consideration of the nature of private and public space became key considerations in the development of our proposals. Hill House is clearly a family home and has a very strong sense of being a domestic, personal environment, however this intrusion into a private realm by the general public is resolved without any consideration of the meaning of this act; the approach from the pavement, through the gates feels inappropriately casual and lacking in its interpretation of a private space for public access.
We proposed to form an opening in the rear wall, to admit visitors directly from the car park, which is located within the Blackhill Plantation. The gates of Hill House would remain closed; the visitors have not been invited by the family, but find themselves there because of a different type of transaction relating to preservation of heritage through identification with tourism and visitor attraction. This new hole in the wall is related to the new visitor centre, unobtrusively concealed behind the boundary, effectively embedded within the Blackhill Plantation. We also proposed a temporary pavilion, which is designed to be easily demountable and may be stored during the winter; the idea for this building was that it could be located in various locations in the garden for a limited number of years, thereby creating different compositional relationships with Hill House. The relationship between the two new buildings created a new route for visitors, who are drawn through the garden to view the exterior of the house, before moving to the interior; this is in contrast to the current approach where the interior is approached very directly through the main entrance, with the exterior of the building often ignored by visitors.