The Turquoise Road: A Gaelic Colour Bathhouse on the Isle of Skye
Skye - An t-Eilean Sgitheanach - is a beautiful and bleak island that rises from the Atlantic off the west coast of Scotland. This is a bathhouse responding to Gaelic conception of light and colour.
The site lies half a mile to the south of Achnacloich, a crofting settlement that makes up part of Tarskavaig. The proposal includes pools, a sauna, changing rooms and a ceilidh hall.
Can you imagine a people who see colour differently from you? Who see colour not by hues but by vibrance? Learning to unsee colour was one of the greatest challenges of this project when I was in Edinburgh. When I was finally able to travel to the site at Achnacloich on Skye, what had been impossible to see became instinctual. The gleam of quartzite above the pool became glas; the rich colour of burnt larch became donn; the bloody red of dried seaweed cladding became dearg; the dark shimmer of seashell aggregate concrete became liath.
I no longer saw colours in English but in Gaelic. English colour-words suddenly no longer made sense to me. They cannot describe the landscape, nor can they describe this bathhouse, which is of the landscape: seaweed, mussel shells, larch, ashwood and quartzite.