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Museum start marks Burns anniversary

The 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns is being celebrated across Scotland, with 2009 also being designated the Year of Homecoming.

In Burns’s birthplace of Alloway, in Ayrshire, the anniversary has marked the start of a long-anticipated project to build a brand new Burns Museum to house the most important collection of the poet’s life and work.

Work has begun on the construction of the timber frame for the building, which will be a striking contemporary structure with an organic, wave-shaped roof. In keeping with the contemporary design, the frame itself combines timber with steel joints and steel cables. It will be constructed using locally-sourced Douglas fir, with some single pieces of timber being as long as nine metres.

It is being constructed by leading timber-framing company, Carpenter Oak and Woodland of Angus – the company behind the frame of the spectacular Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park headquarters.

The company’s commercial director Andy Parker said: “Timber is enjoying a well-earned renaissance in today’s architecture, but people want to see it used in a contemporary way. We’re used to solving challenging timber engineering issues that other framing companies would shy away from. This expertise enables us to help architects and engineers push back the boundaries of what is possible.”

The project, being undertaken by the National Trust for Scotland, has been years in the planning and has an estimated cost of £21m, including £5.5m in funding from the Scottish Government and a further £5.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It will be built on land donated by South Ayrshire Council, itself worth almost £3m.

Work will continue throughout this year, with the project expected to be complete by next summer.

• The forthcoming issue of Ecclesiastical and Heritage World magazine will carry a special feature highlighting the Burns anniversary and Scotland’s heritage, and helping celebrate the Year of Homecoming.

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