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WJ Cairns & Associates


Member of Intersphere Consulting Organization

Cairns were responsible for the route selection of the new Megget Road and siting and design of all new buildings (Reservoir Control Building, Outlet Tower, Stilling Pool, replacement farms, houses and steadings and other structures). Cairns had a particular role in advising on Dam siting in collaboration with consulting Engineer, Cuthbertson and the treatment of the dam slopes (highest earth dam in the UK, 180ft): in contouring, terracing and establishment of the grassland ecosphere of indigenous species. The Cairns design established appropriate woodlands, parks and recreation facilities for public access and enjoyment, whilst accommodating sheep farming, composing an entirely new but harmonious and natural landscape structure.


The project was accorded the highest nationally accredited combined design and environmental awards of any project constructed in Scotland during the period from 1970-2000.

BBC Award 2 Environment

Megget Reservoir, Selkirk, Scotland




“The Financial Times Architecture at Work Award for 1986 has been given to the Megget Reservoir Control Building, near Selkirk, Scotland, and the assessors wish to include in the prize the white tower spillway that sits in the lake, the stilling pool, the dam itself and the whole composition of the giant landscape of the scheme.

The stone and steel entrance gates, the portal in the hillside that lead to the waterpipes to Edinburgh and the entrance to the Control Building are all consistently carried out in a well composed development and enlargement of the local dry stone wall vernacular.  The Control Building is well below the surface of the dam which allows the dam to be the major element in the landscape and permits wildlife and plant life the same opportunity to colonise the valley as it had before”.


Cairns were commissioned by Lothian Regional Water Board to carry out an environmental impact assessment of the Megget Reservoir development scheme as well as the appointment as architects and landscape architects to work in association with Robert H Cuthbertson and Partners the Consulting Engineers in overall charge of the project.

Cairns in collaboration with the Engineers undertook the comprehensive dissection of the engineering components for the Works including the siting of the dam and the replacement St. Marys Loch to Tweedsmuir B-class road through the Megget Valley.


At the same time Cairns dissected the landscape and ecology of the Megget Valley and all elements of the existing rural land use and settlement. A rigorous process of reconstruction interposing engineering, landscape and elements was undertaken with the ultimate objective of complete integration of the reservoir and reconstructed sheep farming, land use and settlements.

BBC Award 1 Arch & Design

BBC Award Architecture and Design

BBC Award Environment

Client: Lothian Regional Water Board

Copyright Cairns ICL 2013

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