Megget Reservoir

Name: Megget Reservoir

Location: Pebbles-shire, Scottish Borders

NGR: NT21005 23006

Classification: Infrastructure

Date: 1983

Landscape Architect: Mark Turnbull (partner in charge) W J Cairns and Partners

Status: not listed

Canmore ID: 86442


Megget Reservoir is retained by the largest earth embankment dam in Scotland and was constructed to supply water to Edinburgh and the Lothians to the north. It represents one of the finest examples of integrated engineering and environmental design in Scotland, where landscape architects took a leading role in establishing a strategic vision and holistic design approach for the project.  It is both the scale of the overall vision and also the considerable attention to detail in this remote, sensitive landscape which makes this project remarkable.

Not only did consideration have to be given to the location, design and landscape treatment of the dam itself, but farms, houses and the existing road all had to be relocated above the proposed water level, and new sheltered pastures established to compensate for loss of existing grazing areas.  Additionally, this was one of the first large-scale reservoir projects to recognise the important recreational and scenic value of the creation of a new water body within an upland valley, with recreational areas and viewpoints specifically created at key locations along the reservoir. All these issues are encapsulated within an overall design vision which seamlessly brings these elements together into an integrated design proposal, which is both modernistic and contemporary in terms of the design treatment of the spillway and settling pool, yet appropriately low key and informal in relation to the detailing of the realigned road, in terms of its geometry, kerb detailing and treatment of viewing laybys. 

This is sophisticated yet simple, considered environmental design on a visionary scale, informed by the iterative relationship between assessment and design, and which ably demonstrates the strategic role and contribution that landscape architects can bring to major infrastructure projects.  The project makes a considerable contribution to the landscape character of the Ettrick Hills and should be celebrated as one of the finest achievements of the landscape profession in Scotland in the 20th century.

Text by: Keith Horner Proposed by: Keith Horner

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