Culzean Castle has long been a major attraction for tourists venturing south of Glasgow into Ayrshire, where it welcomes almost a quarter of a million people every year. Over the last few years the Natural Trust felt the Castle’s visitor centre and car park was in need of a revamp to accommodate the increasing number of visitors.

Hardscape worked alongside architects from Optimised Environments (Edinburgh) to ensure the classic beauty and prestige of the castle was mirrored in the visitor centre and car park.

The Brief

Culzean Castle is an opulent estate that was once the playground of David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassillis – a man who was keen to impress with his wealth and status. The castle is home to a swan pond, an icehouse, flamboyant formal gardens, fruit-filled glasshouses, and since 1987 an image of the castle has been used on Scottish five-pound notes.

More recently, the castle has unveiled an adventure play park and begun hosting festival-style events. This has resulted in an increased surge in footfall, which meant the visitor centre project quickly became a priority – requiring a speedy three-month turn around. Hardscape was tasked with quickly creating the new landscape using traditional materials, in line with the castle’s rich history and style.

Materials Used

Architects from Optimised Environments looked to Hardscape for inspiration in the selection of the most appropriate landscaping materials. They were looking for sympathetic materials that would not only complement the castle design but also provide strong environmental credentials. As a material steeped in history, this high quality sandstone sourced from the Forest of Dean, fitted the brief perfectly. In keeping with the traditional heritage of the castle, the stone reflects the historic atmosphere throughout the castle’s grounds. Forest Pennant is processed using energy produced by an onsite-hydro turbine and is one of the lowest carbon-rated natural stone products on the market, which was particularly important given the National Trust status of the Castle.

Hardscape supplied 700m2 of Forest Pennant slabs and 400m2 of setts. The National Trust wanted to have the majority of works completed before Easter to ensure it didn’t cause any inconvenience to visitors over the holiday period. Hardscape assisted by having all the materials manufactured in a 4 week period and then stored at the quarry so they could be called off to site for delivery the following day.


The finished visitor centre and car park have successfully helped the popular destinations to accommodate for the increasing visitor numbers, providing the public with a visitor experience that reflects the castle’s authentic historical roots.

Managing Director at Hardscape, Mathew Haslam said, “Visitor centres and car parks make an important first impression for visitors at busy tourist destinations like Culzean Castle, so it’s important they are well maintained and reflect the heritage of the setting. We’re passionate about providing high quality materials to suit our The National Trusts requirements and we’re really pleased with the finished result at Culzean Castle.”