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Iconic Highland castle revamp is an 'opportunity to do something really special'

By Scott Maclennan

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Inverness Castle Experience rose window.
Inverness Castle Experience rose window.

The keynote revamp of Inverness Castle is an “opportunity to do something really special” that should produce a visitor experience on the same level as Somerset House, the Saatchi Gallery, and Harry Potter all rolled into one.

That is the view of Chris Mather who will be designing the Inverness Castle Experience while it will be built by WorkHaus Project who have recently worked on top national projects like the V&A in Dundee among others

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The appointment of Workhaus Projects to carry out the interpretation for the interior of the Inverness Castle Experience alongside the design work which will be conducted by Mather & Co.

Workhaus Projects will combine creativity, design, technology and craftsmanship to create a world-class visitor experience within the transformed castle building, bringing the vision of content designers Mather Co to fruition.

The result will be an immersive and educational experience that will engage and delight all visitors, which Mr Mather says when it is done will be comparable to the best visitor attractions in the UK.

He said: “Mather & Co are the experienced 3D designers on the castle project, working on all the attraction spaces doing the retail, the food and beverage, and the North Tower experiences as well as the gardens.

“One of the main challenges is to get the numbers of people through the building. I think this part of the world is very seasonal, you get a lot of tourists coming in at certain times of the year.

“The key for us is to make sure that we design something that works for both peak and off-peak seasons and we really want to do that because we want local people to buy into this, we want them to enjoy it, to be proud of it and we want them to bring their friends and family to this as well. I’m pretty sure we can achieve that.

“I think we’ve taken the initiative, I think we have taken the tourism initiative to the UK. I think Inverness will become a gateway even more to tourism in the Highlands.

“So I think what we are producing here is a Somerset House, a Saatchi Gallery, it is a Harry Potter all together wrapped up in one.

“We’ve got an opportunity to do something really special here.”

In the Rose Window room: Chris Mather, Mather & Co; Jim Ibbetson, and Joe Fisher from Workhaus Projects, Fiona Hampton, HLH; Jason Kelman, Highland Council. Credit: HLH/Paul Campbell Photography
In the Rose Window room: Chris Mather, Mather & Co; Jim Ibbetson, and Joe Fisher from Workhaus Projects, Fiona Hampton, HLH; Jason Kelman, Highland Council. Credit: HLH/Paul Campbell Photography

Workhaus Projects’ Jim Ibbetson said: “We are a fit-out company but a sort of creative fit-out company. So what that means is that we specialise in doing the interior fit-outs of museums and visitor experiences like this and that’s all we do. But we do that internationally.

“I mean we’ve worked at and done shows at the British Museum, some of the big names in London, like the natural history museum. We have worked recently at the V&A in Dundee and we did a big show in New York for Warner Bros.

“We did the tartan exhibition at the V&A in Dundee and that was all about cultural identity so not cheesy at all, we had a load of fashion designers there and it was all about how Scotland is viewed around the world.

“Mather & Co are the designers but we are going to make it happen, we are the fabricators, and we turn their drawings into technical designs that can be built and we can iron out all the problems to make the fantasy a reality.”

City MSP Fergus Ewing said: “The construction work is progressing well and the designs for each aspect of the Inverness Castle Experience are fully developed. Workhaus Projects will now begin the process of bringing those designs to life, for visitors to enjoy when the Inverness Castle Experience opens in 2025.”

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