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photographing a striking building under a vast sky

A recent commission from multi-award winning architects Reiach and Hall saw us travelling north to the wide-open skies of Wick in Caithness. The brief was to photograph ‘Nucleus: The Nuclear and Caithness Archives’, a building that Reiach and Hall designed for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. We were asked to take photographs that not only capture this stunning building but also come back with images that reflect the character of the location in which it is situated.


The building’s design makes subtle use of cues from the surrounding landscape and the history of Caithness. Neolithic chambered cairns, standing stones, local geology, Wick Airport, the layout of the surrounding fields, the weather and wide open skies all contribute to realising a design that whilst being cutting edge echoes the region’s history and references the neighbouring environment.

We were on site for sunrises and sunsets so that we could capture the building against dramatic skies as the light raked across the landscape highlighting it’s elevations. We also photographed it at other times of the day in order to illustrate the effect the sun’s position has on the building’s exterior and interior. Inside it feels very open with extensive views to the outside and ‘internal lochans’. The use of large glass walls (some with coloured transparent panels) allows in lots of light and, when looking at the building from the outside, reflect the ever-changing sky. The exterior cladding is beginning to weather giving the exterior a beautifully understated patina.



This is a great building to photograph as it has so many dynamic viewpoints and it’s appearance changes in tune with the weather and time of day. It’s also a really good building to visit. Staff that we spoke to love the interior's atmosphere as do members of the public who can utilise the Caithness Archive section, all in all a fab and dramatic building.


We shot on Nikons and Fuji X Series cameras, the resultant files were adjusted in Lightroom and Photoshop. We didn’t need any filters to get drama into the shots as that was already there in abundance…we’ve only just dried out!

Reiach and Hall won two top awards for this amazing building in ‘The Architect’s Journal Architecture Awards 2017’. The richly deserved awards are for ‘Public Building of the Year’ and ‘AJ Editor's Choice of the Year’….well done Reiach and Hall!