The Embattlement: Re-Designing the Future of Castle Pinckney


Marcia Gibson
Louisiana State University


Ursula Emery McClure
Louisiana State University


This winning submission presents logical and refined solutions with great clarity in the design proposal and exceptional renderings. The hands-off approach, proposed for the island, does not complete with Castle Pinckney, allowing it to stand on its own. The circulation of the entire site is revitalized through a few smart and modest moves, such as removing the fill from within the castle, creating an access ramp, and extending the boardwalk over the shoreline. The design allows visitors to be in the pavilion while looking at the castle, creating space for prime viewing. Additionally, the belvedere-viewing platform provides protection for the island mimicking the granite boulders that surround the castle.


Castle Pinckney has been left untouched for decades and as a result has been victim to natural elements deteriorating its original architectural form. As it is one of only three Castle forts built in the United States, its original architecture holds value. The Embattlement intervention enables the visitor to experience the interior spaces, barracks, and the intentional authentic design of Castle Pinckney as well as preserves a unique form in US military architecture.

Castle Pinckney will  be re-constructed as it was first built during the 1800's with the original height  and barracks being the most evident contributions to the existing ruin. This allows for the visitor to experience what the original plan of the Castle was intended to be, creating a historical museum of the fort in itself. The reconstruction of the fort will give the life back to the existing structure and create an opportunity for history to be brought back to the site. The development of the embattlement comes from the new formation of land that gives elevation to the exposed flat site. This intervention creates a berm surrounding Castle Pinckney offering protection to the vulnerable fort from the natural elements that weaken the integrity of the structure. By building up the land around the fort, an opportunity occurs to place program within the berm. This action hides the visitor facilities from the harbor but once inside reveals Castle Pinckney in a formal tribute. These embedded facilities encourage the visitor to focus on Castle Pinckney, to experience what it was like to be enveloped in an eighteenth century castle, while forgetting the busy surroundings of the harbor.

The earth-bermed spaces offer protection from the natural elements and create ideal seasonal locations. This allows visitors to visit year round and stay overnight with confidence that spaces will be comfortable. The facilities will be completely off-the-grid employing solar energy, utilizing leach field septic systems, passive air strategies throughout, and recycled materials will be used when possible within the natural island landscape. Oyster farms are placed on the southeast and southwest corners of the island contributing to the ecology of the surrounding area. As oyster reefs help build environments for other organisms, stabilize bottom sediments, reduce wave energy, and prevent erosion. They ultimately offer shoreline protection that will help preserve Shute's Folly Island and the new land constructed to protect Castle Pinckney.

The new experience of the site becomes a juxtaposition of environmental technologies while simultaneously providing a contribution to the historical site and the Charleston Harbor. With the recreation of the original plan of Castle Pinckney and the change in the elevation of land to protect the fort while inhabiting visitation spaces, the site becomes a dynamic visitation spot for one to come and experience the island. This establishes a framework that emphasizes the need for preservation and sustainable networks to work collaboratively to successfully maintain Castle Pinckney for many decades into the future.