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Architecture (MA)

Megan Ellis

Megan is an Architectural Designer from Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She has worked in London, Copenhagen and the Isle of Skye.

Megan's thesis project, 'Mapping the Mountain's Inside' is a culmination of her research undertaken at the Royal College of Art. Her work explores themes of mapping and perceptions of landscape, manifesting architecturally through the design of a performance space in the mountains. The project is explored through garment design, 1:1 experimentation, film, and digital representation.


Nan Shepherd writes: “the end of a climb meant always the opening of a spacious view over the world: that was the moment of glory. But to toil upward, feel the gradient slacken and the top approach, and then find no spaciousness for reward, but an interior- that astounded me. From that day, one idea persists- it is that the mountain has an inside.”

'Mapping the Mountain’s Inside' aims to understand different perspectives of landscape through the design of a performance space in the mountains.

The project considers performance as a form of mapping, asking how design can be used to enrich the experience of being in the mountain. 

The proposal is situated in the Black Cuillin Ridge on The Isle of Skye. The Mountain is explored as a polarising entity, utilising it as the backdrop for a discussion on mapping techniques- both conventional and unconventional- to explore alternate ways of seeing provided by walking. The site was chosen as a location of extremes, our vulnerability on the mountain and the ever-changing weather appropriate for the project in the mountain’s ability to enable heightened experiences and perspectival truths.

site plan
Site Plans

Nan Shepherd's book ‘The Living Mountain’ encourages a new way of seeing landscape. She describes the mountain as having an inside, something she only began to understand through bodily contact with the mountain. This is an idea Tim Ingold expanded on, referring to our understanding of landscape ‘as the surface of the earth.’ Both Ingold and Shepherd question this, exploring the notion of landscape as ‘everything in between’.


The project is comprised of three elements: the gathering point and storage section, the walk, and the final performance space.

The performative element centres around the a musical album. The album begins at the storage facility, the walk commences and then culminates on the stage at the base of the Cuillin Mountain ridge where the album finishes.

As a way to involve both the audience members and the performers in the journey into the mountain, a jacket was designed. This is worn throughout the walk, and is unclipped and attached to the structure of the stage in the final part of the performance. The jacket is the facilitator of the beginning of the performance, which starts at the storage facility.

In the film, the entire journey is depicted. The storage facility is represented through the clothes rail, while the stage is represented through the 1:1 element in the final scene.


Models: Nicole Urquhart, Cammy Wilson

Music: Where the Corries Hold the Snow, Mac​-​Talla Nan Creag

Cinematography: Megan Ellis

Coire Lagan, Isle of Skye

The Storage Facility is where the audience gathers and the journey begins. This building houses the jackets and stage structure. The Storage Facility it is where the audience first pick up their jacket, become familiar with the processes of wearing and using it.

The building addresses the local vernacular, the slate tiles found on many of the surrounding building in the site. The building is surrounded by the frame structure which can then be cleared away in the winter season, making the building less obvious as a site for performance. The cylindrical form references grain silos found on nearby farms and allows an elevated view of the walk into the Cuillins.


The performance space was designed to facilitate a musical performance enabling a deeper understanding of the mountain. The design of the proposal began by looking into the form of a climber's portaledge.

The design of the stage developed from a series of platforms, to three clear sections. The two outer audience platforms face onto the stage, utilising the mountain as the backdrop for the performance. The positioning of the stage sections follow the form of the cliff, referencing the inside of the mountain.

Stage design

In parallel with the design of the stage, the jacket was designed. This was to include the audience members, allowing them to become part of the performance through clothing. A lightweight and waterproof ripstop was used to create forms that were able to be unfolded and attached the frame of the stage.

Zero Waste patterns were explored during the design of the jackets, allowing the unfolded pattern to create a uniform and repetitive form, each attached to the frame by the upper and lower portions. In the design, the fabric is threaded onto the frame and pulled through a series of wheels, allowing audience members to interact with the jackets on their bodies and the jackets on the frame.