Richard Murphy Architects

CMS meets contemporary glazing brief for Carnegie Library project

Carnegie Library and Galleries, Dunfermline

Window, door and curtain walling manufacturer and installer CMS Window Systems has played a key role in the creation of the new Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries (DCL&G), which was crowned Scotland’s best building in the 2017 RIAS Awards.

The company was appointed to deliver the major window and curtain walling contract for the spectacular £12.4 million project by Fife Council and Fife Cultural Trust.

The Richard Murphy Architects-designed project took an existing B-listed library, which was the world’s first Carnegie Library, built with money donated by Scottish businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and a former bank to create a major new cultural centre.

In addition to the Carnegie Library, the new building houses a new museum, exhibition galleries, local history Reading Room, new children’s library and a mezzanine café with stunning views over the landscaped garden to Dunfermline Abbey and the Heritage Quarter.

Benefiting from a £2.8m award by the Heritage Lottery Fund and a donation of £1m by The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, the DCL&G building is organised along a top-lit internal street, criss-crossed by bridges. To provide access, an adjacent car park was redesigned as a walled garden leading to an entrance courtyard. External materials are sandstone, oak and Corten steel, acknowledging the town’s industrial heritage and the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, after whom the building is named.

CMS Window Systems was awarded the fenestration contract by main contractor BAM Construction, with the brief being to manufacture and install a range of aluminium windows and curtain walling finished in RAL 7024 graphite grey. All windows use the Metal Technology 4-20 Hi+ system which incorporates a thermal break to deliver windows with excellent thermal properties. The complementary curtain walling – capped and silicone pointed – was fabricated using the Metal Technology System 17 Latitude to provide consistency in aesthetics and performance.

Stephen Anderson, aluminium contracts director at CMS Window Systems, said: “The new Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries project was a superb project to be part of and we are delighted to have been part of the project team. We have worked extensively with Fife Council over the past decade in social housing projects, educational buildings and a wide variety of other non-residential schemes, so it was pleasing to be appointed to work on this most prestigious of projects that people across Fife, and Scotland as a whole, can be proud of.”

Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries named Scotland’s best building

The Carnegie Library and Galleries in Dunfermline

The Carnegie Library and Galleries in Dunfermline

The Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries scooped the UK’s richest architecture prize last night as it was awarded the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award for 2017.

Designed by Richard Murphy Architects and built by BAM Construction, the project was selected by judges as “a clear winner” from a shortlist of twelve winners of RIAS Awards for 2017, which were presented in June.

The winner of this year’s RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award receives a gold medal cast by internationally renowned Scottish goldsmith James Brent Ward and a cheque for £25,000. This makes it the richest architectural prize in the UK and one of the most significant architecture awards in Europe. The award is generously supported by the late Andrew Doolan’s family and by the Scottish Government.

The judges for this year’s award were RIAS President, Stewart Henderson PRIAS, Professor Sue Roaf FRIAS, recently retired Professor of Architectural Engineering at Heriot-Watt University and Susie Stirling, head of placemaking & housing in the Scottish Government’s Planning & Architecture Department.

DunfermlineCarnegieLibrary&Galleries1The full judges’ citation for the winning project reads: “In 2007 Richard Murphy Architects won a competition for a major new cultural hub in Dunfermline’s historic centre. The new building is organised along a top-lit internal street, criss-crossed by bridges. To provide access an adjacent car park was redesigned as a walled garden leading to an entrance courtyard. External materials are sandstone, oak and Corten steel, acknowledging the town’s industrial heritage and the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, after whom the building is named.

“Internally the new spaces connect with the existing library, reference rooms repurposed as events spaces. At the lower level the local history reading room is organised in three tiers.  The children’s library, opens directly onto the garden.  On the floor above the café’s terraces offers views over the Abbey.  Above is a double level, barrel vaulted museum and three flexible art galleries. The circulation ‘architectural promenade’ offers key views of significant historic buildings, culminating in a cube window framing views of the Abbey.”

Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries_Richard Murphy Architects_M LambieThe award was presented at a ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland (Doolan Award winner for 2011) by the cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, Ms Fiona Hyslop MSP alongside Mrs Margaret Doolan Hon FRIAS (the late Andrew Doolan’s mother).

Fiona Hyslop said: “Last year the RIAS-led national Festival of Architecture focussed international attention on Scottish architecture and the quality of the shortlist for this year’s RIAS Andrew Doolan Award illustrates again the continuing excellence of new architecture in Scotland.

“I am always delighted to announce the winner of the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award and, in this Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the quality of the winner and of all the shortlisted projects illustrate that we are building a future heritage in Scotland that we can truly be proud of.”

The shortlist for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award comprised this year’s RIAS Awards winners, as follows:

  1. City of Glasgow College – City Campus    

Reiach and Hall Architects / Michael Laird Architects for City of Glasgow College

  1. Due West, Craobh Haven

cameronwebster architects for Gordon and Margaret Turner

  1. Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries

Richard Murphy Architects for Fife Council

  1. Eastwood Health and Care Centre, Glasgow       

Hoskins Architects for hub West Scotland on behalf of NHS Greater Glasgow &    Clyde with East Renfrewshire Council

  1. Edinburgh Road, Musselburgh

A449 LTD for Archie and Tricia MacDonald

  1. Fernaig Cottage, Stromeferry

Scampton and Barnett Architects for Andrew and Gillian Barnett

  1. Glendale Primary School, Glasgow          

Glasgow City Council – DRS Project Management & Design for Glasgow City Council

  1. James Gillespie’s Campus, Edinburgh     

jmarchitects for The City of Edinburgh Council

  1. Moray Place, Edinburgh     

Somner Macdonald Architects (for a private client)

  1. Newhouse of Auchengree, North Ayrshire          

Ann Nisbet Studio for Dr Michael Law and Sally Law

  1. Powis Place, Aberdeen       

Carson & Partners for Alumno Development

  1. Rockvilla – National Theatre of Scotland HQ, Glasgow

Hoskins Architects for National Theatre of Scotland

Proposals to transform Perth City Hall unveiled

Perth City Hall ASL 3

Concept designs by Austin-Smith:Lord and MVRDV

Initial concept designs for the redevelopment of Perth City Hall were unveiled today at a public exhibition.

Perth & Kinross Council is working with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) to manage the process of choosing from a shortlist of five major architects to work on the project.

The shortlisted architects Austin-Smith:Lord and MVRDVHoskins Architects; LDN; Mecanoo; and Richard Murphy Architects have now each submitted their designs for the exhibition.

Austin-Smith:Lord and MVRDV

Perth City Hall ASL

Submission: “We love the old building – so let’s keep the best historic features and open up the box to welcome everybody to Perth’s Living Room. Perth City Hall (PCH) is contained by (and contains) a series of urban rooms. PCH and St John’s Kirk sit within a large urban space accessed via historic vennels and streets. Within the main hall is the Art Mixer – a super flexible exhibit space. In combination these interlinked boxes create the City’s Living Room.

“The Panoramic Roof Garden and all level of the building are accessed by a loop route; grand stair and scenic lift which reveal themselves to the street and the city. The loop creates a civic circuit from street to roof-top garden and back; either the culmination of the cultural visit or a destination in its own right.”

Hoskins Architects

Perth City Hall HoskinsSubmission: “The project looks beyond the building to create a safe, welcoming, and attractive environment that will encourage locals and visitors to enter Perth City Hall, as well as, reinvigorating the surrounding streets and vennels, while respecting the setting of the category A listed St John’s Kirk.

“A new raised plinth, with ramps and steps provides a welcoming entrance to Perth City Hall with greater visual presence. The New Market Cross memorial will be relocated to open up an appropriately generous and direct approach from St John’s Shopping Centre and King Edward Street.”


Perth City Hall LDNSubmission: “The composition of the ancient St John’s Kirk, the City Hall and Perth’s historic street pattern, including its vennels, should result in an urban space of world-class but its current state is rather underwhelming and the overall effect is less than the sum of its parts. Vehicular traffic routes will be re-organised to create a servicing zone along the north side of the City Hall and reduce the road between it and the shopping centre.

“A series of new exhibition plinths will be created along the south side of the City Hall to link St John and King Edward Streets and extend the “front door” of the City Hall into the public realm. These plinths will delineate the edge of a raised plinth along the sunny south side of the City Hall which can be used by the street level café operators along South Street. One of the plinths will be on axis with Fleshers Vennel and the concept is that they will be used for changing displays and visual attractors from surrounding streets to the City Hall precinct.

“The levels of the piazza in front of St John’s Kirk will be adjusted to improve the setting of St John and provide level access into the new City Hall Entrance. Surface finishes will extend through the glass entrance screen into the City Hall to extend the public realm visually into the heart of the building.”


Perth City Hall Mecanoo 3Submission: “The project endeavours to create a new gateway to Perth; to its history and its pride. Perth City Hall has been under a ‘dust blanket’ for many years however its grandeur and resonance within the hearts and minds of the community has meant that it has not been forgotten.

“Our scheme proposal aims to re-activate Perth City Hall by a number of ‘light touch’ interventions that open the building up to the public realm at ground level (The Vennel and the café/bar) and provide a flexible platform in which to best display Perth and Kinross Council’s permanent and temporary collections.

“The design is about transparency, permeability, accessibility and creating an interactive environment for all.”

Richard Murphy Architects

Perth City Hall RMA 2Submission: “We are very conscious of the recent controversy regarding the potential demolition of the former Perth City Hall. Many residents have very happy memories of the building and we recognise that it forms a very strong and familiar landmark in the city centre.

“Nonetheless, we think the building needs radical surgery not just internally to transform it from a concert hall to a museum and gallery, but also to make the new function of the museum evident from the outside.

“Currently the building is a mysterious (and slightly forbidding) box. There are no views of what happens on the inside from the outside. We want to change that so as to invite the public across the threshold.

“The most architecturally elaborate parts of the exterior are the western entrance elevation and the four corners of the building. The rear elevation and the central sections of the side elevations are less important. Internally we believe that the two main staircases and the plastered vault to the main hall are the most significant elements.

“The main entrance will remain on King Edward St but our first move is to make a secondary entrance opposite St John’s Kirk and to place the café and shop there.

“Next we would lower the ground floor of the entire building to be at the same level as the surrounding streets to make the whole building accessible to all.

“Our most radical move would be to remove the central part of the north elevation, insert a giant steel beam and rebuild the cornice and parapet but otherwise replace all the stone work with glass wall.”

BAM Construction was appointed by hub East Central Scotland to redevelop the building earlier this month.

The final decision on the design will be made in the summer, with construction expected to begin in 2019.

Shortlisted designs for Perth City Hall to be showcased

PerthCityHallAn exhibition featuring the initial design concepts created by the five shortlisted architectural firms for the transformation of Perth City Hall into a cultural attraction are to go on show for members of the public.

The building, which closed its doors to the public in 2005, is to be converted by Perth & Kinross Council into a world-class visual arts visitor experience.

The shortlisted architects Austin-Smith:Lord and MVRDV; Hoskins Architects; LDN; Mecanoo; and Richard Murphy Architects will each submit designs for the exhibition.

Last week BAM Construction was appointed by hub East Central Scotland to redevelop the building.

The concepts can be viewed in the Civic Hall at 2 High Street from 12 noon on 12 June. The exhibition will then be open 10am-7pm on weekdays and 10am – 4pm at weekends until 24 June. Images from the exhibition will also be displayed at the back of City Hall opposite St John’s Kirk, and online.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the designs.

The final decision on which firms wins will be made by Perth & Kinross Council in the summer. Formal public consultation will form part of the subsequent planning process.

Following the successful architect being confirmed, the development of the detailed plans and applications for planning consent and listed building consent will take place, with construction works due to begin in 2019.

Work underway at ‘landmark’ development in Donaldson’s grounds

Donaldson's 7CALA Homes has started work on a new development in Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.

A crescent of glass-fronted residences will be created in the grounds of the Donaldson’s College.

The housebuilder said the project will bring to life the vision of architect Richard Murphy OBE. His design for The Crescent will complement the restoration of the neighbouring Category A-listed Playfair building.

David McGrath, managing director of CALA Homes (East), said: “It is a privilege to be involved in this project, so we are delighted that work has now started on the site.

“It is rare enough to earn the chance to create new homes in a World Heritage Site – let alone to be working in a location as special as Edinburgh’s renowned Donaldson’s site. This promises to be a one-of-a-kind development and one that we are extremely proud and excited to be part of.”

Donaldson's 3The historic and turreted Playfair building is one of the most recognisable in Edinburgh and was most recently home to Donaldson’s School for the Deaf. However rising costs saw the school move to a purpose-built new campus in Linlithgow, West Lothian in 2008.

Thereafter the site, purchased by CALA Homes, was mothballed for a number of years, to take account of the economic downturn. During that period the plans to restore the building and transform the wider location was painstakingly drawn up and approved, including extensive consultation with the local community and heritage groups.

That saw CALA partner with heritage restoration specialists City & Country, which took on the conversion of the 1851 William Playfair building into a variety of apartments, a process which started in 2016.

Meanwhile, CALA progressed with its plans to create The Crescent at Donaldson’s, a sweeping collection of new apartments to the secluded north of the listed building. It is the work on that impressive new element of the site which has now started.

The first stage of the construction involves a significant excavation, which will create the underground parking, part of the design intended to keep the site as free from cars as possible once it is completed and landscaped.

Following this, construction will commence on the westernmost half of the split crescent, to create a stylish, glass-fronted building which cleverly takes a host of design cues – including its height and form – from the finest buildings in Edinburgh’s celebrated Georgian New Town.

Donaldson's 1The crescent form of the design itself has also been carefully considered to connect the site with a prominent feature of Georgian architecture, while perfectly complementing and interplaying with the Playfair building. Several examples of Georgian crescents exist in Edinburgh’s New Town.

The homes in The Crescent will include garden flats, duplexes and penthouses.

David McGrath added: “Everything about this project makes it so special. The architects have pulled a masterstroke in coming up with designs which are stylish and modern, yet also pay a respectful homage to the World Heritage site.

“While CALA is already known as Scotland’s foremost developer of upmarket family homes, this is the latest site where we have shown we do so much more. We regularly take on projects that challenge our team to deliver complex engineering and design solutions. This leads to CALA being able to take on a wide variety of developments in and out of the city.

“The Crescent at Donaldson’s is the culmination of years of painstaking work ensure a development which is dynamic and new, yet also fitting and appropriate for such a location.

“Starting the construction process is a huge milestone and we hope The Crescent will become a landmark in its own right for decades to come.”

Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries open after decade long project

Carnegie Library and Galleries

Carnegie Library and Galleries

The first members of the public have stepped inside the Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries (DCL&G), Fife’s newest cultural hub set in the heart of the town’s Heritage Quarter, following a 10-year design and build project.

The building, on which construction work finished late last year, was opened this week after recently winning Edinburgh Architectural Association’s ‘Building of the Year’ and ‘Large Project of the Year’ awards.

Carnegie Library and Galleries, Dunfermline

The new museum now joins two B-listed buildings – the existing Carnegie library and a former bank branch – and has a purpose-built modern extension overlooking the grounds of Dunfermline Abbey. The facility is home to a museum over two floors, three temporary exhibition galleries, a café, a shop, a new children’s library and the Reading Room – a local history, study and archives space.

Fife Cultural Trust staff, who manage and operate the facility on behalf of Fife Council, spent recent weeks moving thousands of books, museum objects, precious archives and artworks into the building.

Carnegie Library and Galleries, Dunfermline

This public opening weekend coincides with the national Festival of Museums, which runs from 19-21 May. A whole week of events for all ages start today, with a memory booth in place to record some of the initial reactions to the new building and family history sessions organised, where visitors can learn how to trace their ancestral roots.

There’s also a ‘scooter salute’ planned for 1pm on Saturday 20th May* and a full range of specialist activities for kids. Listings are available here. DCL&G is now open and admission is free.

Heather Stuart, chief executive of Fife Cultural Trust, said: “This building and all that will happen within it from here on will play a key role in the regeneration of Dunfermline through culture and heritage. This is a community project in spirit and a great deal of blood, sweat and tears from so many people have gone into bringing it to life.

“Thanks to the dedication and commitment shown by the project team, staff and over 450 volunteers, we have created a vibrant visitor attraction that will be enjoyed for many generations to come. It’s a state of the art facility and a fitting celebration of the past, present and future of Dunfermline. We are immensely proud of what we have all created together.”

Steve Grimmond, Fife Council’s chief executive, said: “This impressive new facility in the heart of Dunfermline’s Heritage Quarter is set to be a real cultural asset for Fife.

“It’s been an ambitious and demanding project for those involved but seeing the finished product and the reaction from visitors highlights just how significant this building will be for the town centre. Investing funding in the venture, alongside Heritage Lottery Fund and Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, means that Dunfermline now has a museum fitting to its royal story.”

Richard Murphy, architect of the new facility, added: “Building an extension to the world’s first Andrew Carnegie library is a great privilege and we hope that our own contribution from the 21st century will, in the fullness of time, take its place in Dunfermline’s continuing and unfolding history alongside our many historic neighbours.”

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Spring signifies the beginning of new things and for Carnegie Library and Galleries that couldn’t be truer. The community can congratulate themselves that, with the help of National Lottery funding, they have a produced a museum worthy of the ancient capital of Scotland. It will keep history safe while being the cornerstone of the town’s tourism. It will make a great contribution to people’s education and enjoyment and I look forward to seeing it blossom.”

David Walker, Chairman of Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, said: “The Trust is delighted with the outcome of this outstanding project for Dunfermline. Trustees are particularly impressed with the rebirth of this the first Carnegie Library, and the synergy with the new museum facility, a juxtaposition Andrew Carnegie would have whole heartedly approved.

“The Trustees are also enthusiastic at the opportunities ahead for the spectacular Heritage Quarter of Scotland’s ancient capital now that the plans for the re-opening of Abbot House are under way.”

Dunfermline Carnegie Library named EAA Building of the Year

Museum space, art galleries, a local history reading room, children’s library, café and meeting rooms are integrated with the world’s first Andrew Carnegie Library.The Edinburgh Architectural Association (EAA) has awarded Richard Murphy Architects’ “beautifully crafted” Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries the title of Building of the Year at its annual awards last night.

Announced and presented at a drinks reception in the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, attended by around one hundred architects, sponsors and their guests, the format of this year’s awards was changed to enable all entries built within the chapter area in the Large, Small, Regeneration & Conservation and Wood categories to become eligible for the overall accolade.

The awards were also opened up to chartered architects working in other areas of the UK, who have completed projects within the Edinburgh Chapter area.

A record 57 entries were submitted this year with the 11 shortlisted projects visited by the judging panel in early April.

The judging panel this year comprised of Julie Wilson RIAS – EAA vice president, Roderick Binns RIAS – EAA council member, Joann Russell – head of estate at Historic Environment Scotland and Professor Christopher Breward – principal of Edinburgh College of Art.

On awarding Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries the overall accolade, head judge Julie Wilson said: “The judges were unanimous when it came to agreeing the Building of the Year. The winner is a beautifully crafted building, which is a rich, mature piece of architecture.”

Architect Richard Murphy said: “We are delighted to have won the major accolade of the Edinburgh Architectural Association’s ‘Building of the Year.’ Of course the building is not in Edinburgh, although in the Association’s patch, and we are very pleased that it beat several strong contenders from within the city.

“It is a great credit to Fife Council to have held firstly an architectural competition and then to have followed through with the vision over the intervening ten years to finally realise what we hope will be an innovative building that will be taken to the hearts of the people of the town and beyond.

“A contemporary building at the heart of a conservation area is not an easy project to bring about but we hope that this building, in the fullness of time, will take its place alongside its historic neighbours as part of a continuing development of the town’s illustrious history.”

Other winners on the night include:

DunfermlineCarnegieLibrary&Galleries1Large Project: Sponsored by Fakro GB Ltd

The Large project award is given to acknowledge and publicise excellence in architecture for a completed project within the Chapter area with a contract sum of over £500,000. It may be a new building, an extension, an alteration or a conversion, and it must have been designed by a Chartered Architect. All shortlisted projects in the chapter area were eligible


  • Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries – Richard Murphy Architects
  • Holyrood North Student Accommodation & Outreach Centre – Oberlanders Architects / JM Architects & John C Hope Architects
  • James Gillespie’s High School – JM Architects
  • The Spens Building – Page \ Park Architects

Winner: Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries by Richard Murphy Architects

Commendation: Holyrood North Student Accommodation & Outreach Centre by Oberlanders Architects / JM Architects & John C Hope Architects

The Dalkeith Country Park Including Restoration Yard & Fort Douglas - Buccleuch Estates in association with Malcolm Fraser Architects & Blue ForestRegeneration and Conservation: Sponsored by Cupa Pizarras

This Award makes an annual award for a building within the Chapter area which has been sensitively and effectively restored, converted, regenerated, extended or refurbished by a Chartered Architect, thereby encouraging the successful integration of the old and the new.


  • Botanic Cottage – Simpson & Brown Architects
  • Dalkeith Corn Exchange Regeneration – Michael Laird Architects
  • Dalkeith Country Park Including Restoration Yard & Fort Douglas – Buccleuch Estates in association with Malcolm Fraser Architects & Blue Forest

Winner: Dalkeith Country Park Including Restoration Yard & Fort Douglas by Buccleuch Estates in association with Malcolm Fraser Architects & Blue Forest

photo © David Barbour

Photo © David Barbour

Small Projects:

The Small Projects Award is given to acknowledge and publicise excellence in architecture for a completed project within the chapter area with a contract sum of under £500,000. It may be a new building, an extension, an alteration or a conversion and it must have been designed by a Chartered Architect.


  • Costa Rican Garden Shed – Chambers McMillan Architects
  • Ravelston Dykes Lane – Konishi Gaffney Architects
  • Trinity – Crew Architects

Winner: Ravelston Dykes Lane by Konishi Gaffney Architects

Commendation: Trinity by Crew Architects

Photo © Giles Rocholl

Photo © Giles Rocholl

Ambassador Award: Sponsored by Russwood Ltd

The EAA Ambassador Award is to acknowledge and publicises excellence in architecture for a completed project outside the Chapter area. It may be a new building, an extension, an alteration or a conversion and it must have been designed by a Chartered Architect working within the EAA Chapter area.


  • Comielaw Steading – Konishi Gaffney Architects
  • Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre & Museum Project – Simpson & Brown Architects
  • Thyme Walk Houses – City Architecture Office

Winner: Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre & Museum Project by Simpson & Brown Architects

Photo © Cadzow Pelosi

Photo © Cadzow Pelosi

Wood Award: Sponsored by Forestry Commission Scotland and Wood for Good

The Forestry Commission Scotland and Wood for Good have combined to sponsor an award aimed at encouraging innovative and creative use of timber in new buildings in Scotland. The award seeks also to stimulate greater appreciation of home grown timber and its potential for use in construction, with added consideration given to thoughtful and appropriate use of different species. There is no restriction on building type or scale of project it must have been designed by a Chartered Architect working within the EAA Chapter area.


  • Dalkeith Country Park Including Restoration Yard & Fort Douglas – Buccleuch Estates in association with Malcolm Fraser Architects & Blue Forest
  • Pop-up Pavilion – Konishi Gaffney Architects
  • Thistle Foundation Centre Of Wellbeing – 3D Reid

Winner: Thistle Foundation Centre Of Wellbeing by 3D Reid

An exhibition showcasing the winners and shortlisted entries is on display at the RIAS, Joyce B Deans room at 15 Rutland Square, Edinburgh until May 9. It is open to the public from 9.00am until 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

Shortlist revealed for Perth City Hall transformation

Perth City Hall

Perth City Hall

Five of the biggest names in UK architecture have been shortlisted in Perth & Kinross Council’s competition to redesign Perth City Hall.

Launched by the local authority in February, the competition challenged architectural firms to come up with a grand vision for redeveloping the building into a cultural attraction capable of bringing visitors to the city from around the world.

The designers hoping to undertake the project include Austin-Smith: Lord, Hoskins Architects, LDN, Mecanoo and Richard Murphy Architects.

Together they have been responsible for transforming some of the world’s most treasured historic buildings including the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery, Stirling Tolbooth Arts Centre, Perth Theatre, the Urquhart Castle Visitor Centre and the Scottish Mining Museum, together with the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, the National media Museum and the Waterfront Museum in Abu Dhabi.

Each of the firms will develop initial design concepts which will go on public display in June.

The successful architect is likely to be confirmed by the end of 2017 and construction work will start on the building in 2019.

The grand opening of the building is scheduled for 2021.

The council voted in June to bring the building back into public use with the vision of increasing the city’s capacity to display collections of national significance, house major touring exhibitions and feature national and oversees loans.

Together with a £10 million investment to transform Perth Museum and Art Gallery, it is planned that the two venues will tell the story of how the ancient roots of Scotland were forged in Perth in the Kingdom of Alba, and how modern Scots including the painter John Duncan Fergusson shaped the modern world.

Chris Coleman-Smith, director of Hoskins Architects, said:  “We are thrilled to be on the shortlist for the Perth City Hall project. Perth City Hall is a prominent listed civic building within the Perth Central Conservation Area, giving it a significant presence on Perth’s streetscape. The building is an important component of Perth’s historical and current identity. As such, we believe the project to be an invaluable aspect of Perth & Kinross Council’s aspirations to transform the city’s cultural offer, and we hope to be a part of it.

“The revamped City Hall will bring this much-loved civic building back into use, delivering great, fully accessible, community and creative learning spaces for the people of Perth, as well as being an attraction within its own right.

“We have successfully worked on some of Scotland’s most treasured and sensitive historic buildings, including the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery, in Edinburgh, and Aberdeen Art Gallery. For this reason we are excited by the opportunity to work with Perth & Kinross Council, and offer our expertise in achieving their vision for Perth City Hall.”

A spokesperson from Mecanoo said: “Mecanoo admires the aspirations for the Perth City Plan and having helped other cities in this process in the past, we feel that the City, Culture Perth and Kinross and Mecanoo could form a credible partnership to enable Perth & Kinross Council to realise this ambition.

“Revitalising and energising heritage assets such as Perth City Hall is something we enjoy being part of and we thrive at the opportunities these types of buildings present. The grain of Perth with its charming/lovable vennels is similar to typical Dutch towns and is, we feel, to be celebrated. We see Perth City Hall and its surrounding public realm as an asset to be capitalised on to provide economic prosperity through a cultural offer of international significance and we are excited to be invited to bid for the project.

“As an International practice, Mecanoo prides itself on making lasting and meaningful relationships in different locations all over the world. This partnership would form another start to a hopefully longstanding relationship in the region. The Mecanoo past and current portfolio provides examples of very similar projects where our value has been proven including recent work in Oldham Heritage and Arts Centre and Het Hof van Nederland Museum, the Netherlands.”

Mark Hopton, a partner at LDN Architects, said: “LDN Architects carry out work throughout the UK and are best known for our award-winning approach to conservation complemented with creative contemporary design which recognises that history must be made in the 21st century as well as respected.

“Historic buildings like Perth City Hall are essential to the character of our towns and cities and reflect our civic pride and history. They create a sense of place that helps define who we are and have the potential to be at the heart of contemporary community and cultural life. The challenge for the project team is therefore to define which elements of the City Hall and its site must be preserved, conserved and restored in order to protect, reveal and enhance their significance and, in doing so, identify less important elements that can be adapted sympathetically to ensure that the City Hall can function sustainably in the 21st century and contribute successfully to the vitality of modern life. The project offers the opportunity to make the City Hall, once again the thriving civic centre piece of Perth and to transform its immediate surroundings, particularly its relationship to St John’s Kirk.

“LDN have won Europe’s top Awards for Conservation, the European Union / Europa Nostra Awards for Cultural Heritage several times for our work on nationally significant historic buildings including our work for Historic Scotland over ten years at Stanley Mills; our conservation and development work at Abbotsford, the world famous home of Sir Walter Scott; and the conservation and development of the Knockando Woolmill in Moray. Recently, we completed alterations to St John’s Kirk of Perth and the redevelopment of the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. We are currently completing the redevelopment of the McEwan Hall and Bristo Square in Edinburgh for Edinburgh University and the redevelopment of the Piece Hall in Halifax, rated as one of the top forty best public squares in the World.”

A spokesperson for Richard Murphy Architects said: “Richard Murphy Architects are pleased and excited to be considered for The Perth City Hall project which offers the chance to make a vibrant and exciting new gallery and exhibition space within one of the most important buildings in the centre of the City. We are interested in the idea of breathing new life into a historic structure and creating a place that makes a real contribution to the cultural and social life of Perth, the wider Tayside region and Scotland as a whole.

“We were the Architects for Dundee Contemporary Arts and the Stirling Tolbooth Arts Centre – we have just completed the new Carnegie Galleries and Library in Dunfermline which opens to the public on May 18th and are currently working on the transformation of Perth Theatre which will be complete later this year.”

Graham Ross, Partner and Glasgow studio principal at Austin-Smith:Lord, added: “Our team are thrilled to be shortlisted for this exciting project. Once again extending our longstanding collaboration with internationally renowned architects, MVRDV of Rotterdam, with whom we are preparing the (Y)our City Centre masterplans for Glasgow City Council will bring an added dimension to the project. Redefining Perth City Hall as an innovative and contemporary cultural space presents a significant opportunity for the City to create a world-renowned destination that will benefit the local community and raise Perth’s international profile. We all can’t wait to start.

“Drawing upon our vast experience of delivering high quality contemporary arts and culture projects within sensitive historic environments we are anticipating an exciting challenge to fuse Perth’s past, understand its present and outline what is possible for City Hall in the future. If selected we would combine our in-house expertise in architecture, conservation, streetscape design and urban planning to work collaboratively with people in Perth to create a distinctive vision for their City Hall.”

Six in running to design £45m Edinburgh concert hall

SCOPlaying106_largeIMPACT Scotland has announced an international shortlist of six architect-led teams that will compete to deliver a design for a new world-class concert venue in the heart of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.

The plans are for a 1,000 seat auditorium with rehearsal studios and recording space behind Dundas House at 36 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh.

The building, which could cost up to £45 million, will be the new home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

A total of 69 expressions of interest were received when the open competition was announced last month.

The six teams to be taken forward are:

  • Adjaye Associates (London) with Sandy Brown, Buro Happold and DHA Designs
  • Allies & Morrison (London) with Charcoalblue, Speirs & Major, Harrison Stevens and Buro Happold
  • Barozzi Veiga (Switzerland) with Alan Baxter, Max Fordham, KahleAcoustics, 3DReid and Ian White Associates
  • David Chipperfield Architects (London) with Arup, Whitby Mohajer Engineers, GROSS MAX and Theatre Projects
  • KPMB Architects (Toronto) with Simpson & Brown Architects, David Narro Associates, Arup, Sound Space Vision, rankinfraser landscape architecture and Transsolar Energietechnik
  • Richard Murphy Architects (Edinburgh) with Arup, Graven Images, GROSS MAX and Montagu Evans

Sir Ewan Brown, chairman of the judging panel, said: “We have an extremely strong shortlist to choose from.

“The submissions we received show this project will transform the resource available to Edinburgh’s Festivals and provide new opportunities for music groups across Scotland by building for greater inclusivity and access.”

A decision on the winning team is expected to be taken in early April.

IMPACT-Scotland-Aerial2The complex will be located and designed to complement, rather than compete with, the city-owned and operated Usher Hall musical complex, in order to provide Edinburgh with additional possibilities for cultural expansion.

IMPACT Scotland and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra hope that public sector partnerships will support the financing of the project.

Money has already been committed by the arts-focused Dunard Fund, which will purchase an adjacent office building in St Andrew Square to house the staff of IMPACT Scotland, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and other arts bodies.

Richard Murphy: Scotland one of ‘worst countries in Europe’ to be an architect

Richard Murphy

Richard Murphy

One of Scotland’s leading architects Richard Murphy has declared the country as one of the worst in Europe to be in the profession and urged young designers to leave the country to further their careers.

Speaking to The Herald on Friday, Murphy, whose Edinburgh home was last week named 2016 RIBA House of the Year, criticised the Scottish Government’s procurement strategy, told young designers to leave the country and warned of a ‘big slow down’ in work for architects.

“The big problem with the public sector is that the government has set up a procurement system [where] it doesn’t matter how good you are, you cannot get a job – they favour the big commercial practices, and this has spread to universities,” he said.

“There is an enormous hypocrisy in Scotland; you have an architecture policy, an architecture unit [in government], and at the same time a policy which is putting design practices out of business.”

He added: “You cannot do a good building without a good client, so Scotland is one of the worst countries in Europe to be an architect now.”

Murphy also advised young architects: “Leave, get out – there is no future. I am sorry to say that because there are some really talented young architects. We find it really tough.”

Murphy, who was elected to RIBA Council earlier this year, also told the Architects’ Journal that he would use his position on the practice and profession committee to lobby for a new procurement code.

Speaking to the AJ, he said: “We now have a system in place – both in Scotland and the rest of the UK – which has now got virtually nothing to do with selecting architects for their skills.

“You will go to an interview now, and 90 per cent of the points are on project management skills – with just 10 per cent on design experience. I feel very sorry for young architects; they can’t now progress past small-scale small domestic work.”

Murphy also criticised the growing practice of only allowing architects to mention their projects completed in the past three years.

“Our biggest building was five years ago, but we are not allowed to mention it,” he said.

“What they should really be asking is whether the person in charge has experience of doing another building at any point of their career.”

Murphy praised other European countries – including Iceland and Germany – for their procurement systems, which he said do more to promote open competition.

Neil Baxter, Secretary and Treasurer of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), said there was a still a lot of work to be done on making procurement rules “sensible and fair” but progress has been made in recent years.

He said Mr Murphy was an architect of “very considerable skill” but disagreed with him on the state of architecture in Scotland, adding that there are practices that are “very busy and the moment, although it is a very competitive sector”.

Mr Baxter added: “There was some very heavy handed procurement language but in the last few years that has been phased out.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is currently implementing The Review of Scottish Public Sector Procurement in Construction, in which RIAS and other architecture bodies were involved. This sets out a vision of design-led procurement in Scotland.”