Simpson & Brown Architects

Clark Contracts to reinstate Glasgow’s original Mackintosh Tea Rooms

digThe Willow Tea Rooms Trust has appointed Clark Contracts to deliver the final construction and fit out phase of the famous original Tea Rooms Building created by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1903.

In addition to reinstating the Tea Rooms, the refurbishment at Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street will create an exhibition and visitor centre, learning and education suite, retail and conference facilities. It will become a focal point for cultural and heritage tourism in the city.

Clark Contracts’ Manufactured Joinery Division are recreating some of the original fitted furniture pieces that will feature in the refurbished Tea Rooms including the bespoke banquet seating in the front salon and gallery, the detailed seating in the billiard room and the inglenook seating at its original fireplace.

The Board of Trustees are supported by an Advisory Panel of Mackintosh experts who scrutinise every detail of the restoration to ensure each element of the work is in line with the original Mackintosh designs, conserving the unique heritage.

Celia Sinclair, chair of the Trustees, said: “The Trust are delighted to have Clark Contracts on site. Works are going very well. Clark Contracts are not only determined to complete this exciting and challenging project, made possible by the support of The Heritage Lottery Fund, for an opening in June 2018, but are totally committed to the fact that this is a unique, iconic Mackintosh treasure in our City of Glasgow.”

Gerry Cummins, director, Clark Contracts, said: “It is an honour to be involved in such a unique and important project for Glasgow. We are looking forward to working with The Willow Tea Rooms Trust, their Mackintosh experts and the design team to deliver this exciting restoration.”

Clark Contracts is working with design team members Simpson and Brown Architects, project managers and surveyors Doig and Smith, services engineers Rybka, interior design consultants Studioarc and structural engineers David Narro Associates.

The award of the contract will support the training and development of Clark Contracts apprentices and trainees in roles including joinery and site management. The project has already seen visits from local students from Glasgow Caledonian University and there will be events held throughout the duration of the project to promote heritage craft skills.

East Lothian Council rejects national marine centre proposals

© Simpson & Brown Architects

© Simpson & Brown Architects

Plans to transform the Scottish Seabird Centre’s existing premises into a new national marine centre have been rejected by East Lothian Council on the grounds that the project would have a detrimental impact on the local area.

The £6.2 million scheme would have expanded the existing site in North Berwick to provide a hub for marine education and included a new visitor centre for school groups and an observatory enabling a 360-degree view of the landscape.

Designs by Simpson & Brown Architects were previously revised to accommodate feedback from the community, staff and volunteers, supporters as well as council officers.

The height of the planned observatory was reduced by 1.6 metres, while alterations were made to the design of the marine centre’s roof and the brickwork used was also changed so it is more in keeping with its surroundings.

© Simpson & Brown Architects

© Simpson & Brown Architects

However the £5.5 million plan was rejected by councillors this week due to adverse visual impacts on the historic settings of North Berwick.

Council papers said 353 people had raised objections to the new centre, while 215 had said they were in support of it.

A report to the planning committee said: “The economic benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the significant detrimental visual impact that the proposed development would have on the character of the North Berwick conservation area.”

Scottish Seabird Centre chief executive, Tom Brock, said: “It has taken many years to get to this stage and to receive a refusal from the planning committee is very disappointing.

“However, we have been greatly encouraged by the widespread support for the concept of a national marine centre that aims to inform and inspire people about Scotland’s amazing marine wildlife and highlights the need to look after it for future generations.

“We will take on board recommendations and we are reviewing plans to identify the best way forward.”

Revised national marine centre plans submitted for planning

© Simpson & Brown Architects

© Simpson & Brown Architects

Amended plans have been submitted for the proposed national marine centre in North Berwick.

The attraction for the Scottish Seabird Centre conservation and education charity aims to provide a hub for marine education, highlighting the international importance of Scotland’s marine life, as well as the threats they face, and presenting cutting-edge research taking place across the country.

With an estimated project investment of £6.2 million, the plans include a new education space to accommodate school and community groups; new outreach and online learning programmes; year-round interactive and changing exhibitions and activities to reduce seasonality; as well as new volunteering, work experience and internship programmes.

The plans for the centre have been updated following consultation which has been undertaken since March 2017. The designs have evolved and taken on a range of iterations to accommodate feedback from the community, staff and volunteers, supporters as well as East Lothian Council officers.

New architectural drawings show the height of the planned observatory reduced by 1.6 metres, as well as alterations to the design of the marine centre’s roof and changes to the brickwork used so it is more in keeping with its surroundings.

© Simpson & Brown Architects

© Simpson & Brown Architects

Andy Davey, partner at Simpson & Brown – the architects who designed the existing Seabird Centre building, said: “We have worked very hard to design a sensitive scheme on an important and challenging site, responding to the education and conservation objectives of the charity.

“The scheme will be able to accommodate the new education programmes and activities being developed in partnership with conservation and research organisations. The updated plans fit with the mix of buildings within the Conservation Area, minimise impact on the harbour and improve the public realm space.

“A Heritage Impact Assessment has been undertaken, following guidelines set out by Historic Environment Scotland. We strongly believe that this proposal will enhance the built landscape of the area in a similar way to the construction of the original Seabird Centre seventeen years ago.”

New analysis of the economic impact of the marine centre by the independent economic research consultancy EKOS reinforces that the centre will bring considerable benefits to East Lothian and Scotland.

The EKOS report estimates that the new centre will generate output at the East Lothian level of £2.38m per annum and support employment of 54 FTEs (full time equivalents). It will create a net additional increase of £1.18m per annum in output and employment of 24 FTEs on top of the existing beneficial impacts of the Scottish Seabird Centre.

At a national level, it will generate output at just over £1m per annum and support 23 FTE jobs.

Tom Brock OBE, CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre, added: “The aim of the national marine centre is to build on the work undertaken by the Seabird Centre team by diversifying to incorporate the wider marine environment and wildlife above and below the waves, including seabirds.

“The economic impact at regional and national levels is significant and that coupled with our charitable objective to encourage people to protect and conserve the marine environment and wildlife for future generations reinforces the importance of this project.”

And finally… Planning permission granted for Scotland’s first columbarium

columbariumThe first columbarium of its kind in Scotland will be created in a Fife village.

The vault for funeral urns will be part of a woodland eco-cemetery to be constructed in Kinghorn. Only three others exist in the UK.

To be carved into the landscape on the banks of Kinghorn Loch, the columbarium was given planning consent by Fife Council alongside the Kingdom’s first eco-cemetery.

Based on an Iron Age barrow burial chamber, the project could provide an underground repository for ashes between a tranquil loch and a rural ecology centre.

A drive is now on to raise funds for the pioneering project, which will be undertaken as a not-for-profit enterprise by Kinghorn Community Land Association (KCLA).

The multi-faith cemetery and columbarium, designed by Edinburgh-based architects Simpson and Brown, will be built on part of 10 acres of land purchased on behalf of the community in 2015.

Richard Brewster, chairman of KCLA, told The Courier: “We are delighted to get planning permission for this unique place of remembrance.

“This is a real milestone for Kinghorn. The concept has really captured people’s imagination and this resulted in so much positive support from the public when the planning application was submitted.

“There is a real shortage of cemetery space locally and this will be somewhere special for people to lay loved ones to rest.

“The cemetery will develop into a natural woodland and peaceful remembrance space with a wildflower meadow and spectacular views over the Forth.

“The idea for the columbarium is based on an Iron Age barrow – a hollow mound with passages within it, with a central walled area somewhat like a broch, and a path that leads from the higher celebration platform.

“The next challenge for us will be to finalise the estimate of building costs, then to raise the money to make this vision a reality.”

Architects appointed to deliver Prestongrange Museum masterplan

beami_engine_pgEast Lothian Council has appointed Simpson & Brown Architects as lead consultant to deliver a masterplan for Prestongrange Museum.

The £39,312.50 contract, which was awarded following competitive tender, will see the Edinburgh consultants consider range of options for future development of the museum.

Key stages identified for the preparation of the masterplan include:

Conservation Plan:

  • assessment of all the existing structures upon the site with proposals and costings to make them wind and water-tight and safe to access
  • assessment of and proposals / costings relating to the visitor infrastructure (e.g. car parking, toilets etc) and the landscape of the whole site, including areas currently not accessible, in keeping with the historic nature and landscape setting of the site
  • Proposals/costings in relation to enhancing and making accessible all parts of the natural environment of the site and creating safe links to surrounding amenities

Development Plan:

  • An audit of relevant studies and proposals already undertaken by East Lothian Council and others
  • Sustainable proposals to enhance the interpretation of the site using a variety of approaches to maximise accessibility and to protect and display the collections
  • Proposals for improving the visitor infrastructure including facilities, signage, orientation, layout, active travel and public transports links, equal access provision, and parking.
  • The potential for the work/activity at the site to have significant measurable social and economic impact including: volunteering/community development, employability and training, learning and educational impacts, community capacity building impacts, increased visitor footfall and the possibility of small business units
  • Proposals for audience development both in relation to visitors from the local area/region and tourists from farther afield
  • Proposals for attracting additional funding to support the development of the site
  • Proposals for the development of revenue generating activities in keeping with the Museum and its functions, and their requisite funding and governance structures
  • A specific options appraisal for the re-housing of the engines currently stored in the Bath House – with a view to, where possible, running them on site
  • Proposals for the enhancement of the natural environment of the site in keeping with the local area and the use of the Museum
  • Proposals for how consultation and engagement with local and regional communities can continue to be built into the planning/development process in a meaningful way

Cllr Jim Goodfellow, cabinet member for community wellbeing, said: “The appointment of Simpson and Brown is a positive step forward in realising the future potential of the Prestongrange Museum and surrounding site. The master plan will identify a strategic vision for the sustainable future development of the site and the available options to achieve this. I know there are many groups, organisations and individuals who have an interest in this site and I am pleased to confirm that extensive stakeholder consultation will be undertaken during the development of the master plan.”

The masterplan will be completed by March 2018.

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.

Scottish Government clears way for £40m Jedburgh whisky distillery plans

Jedburgh distilleryA planned £40 million whisky distillery near Jedburgh has cleared the final planning hurdle after the Scottish Government gave the project the green light.

The project received unanimous support from councillors late last year but needed government clearance due to flooding issues flagged up by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

It has now confirmed it does not intend to intervene, allowing Scottish Borders Council to give the green light.

Designed by Simpson & Brown Architects, the two-phase development is being led by Mossburn Distillers, part of Dutch drinks firm Marussia Beverages BV.

The first phase between 2017 and 2018 would see a small distillery built  near the Jedforest Hotel at Camptown to educate visitors in the “craft of making spirit”.

A larger-scale distillery, capable of producing millions of bottles per year, would be completed by 2021.

£40m Jedburgh distilleries proposal approved

Jedburgh distilleryScottish Borders Council has unanimously backed proposals to build a grain and malt whisky plant, visitor centre and 200-seater restaurant near Jedburgh.

The £40 million distillery plans being led by Mossburn Distillers, part of Dutch drinks firm Marussia Beverages BV, would see it build a grain and malt whisky plant, visitor centre and 200-seater restaurant near the Jedforest Hotel at Camptown, three miles from Jedburgh.

The proposal, which would see 50 new jobs created, still needs to be cleared by the Scottish Government which is considering potential flooding concerns flagged by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

The developers plan to build a small distillery in the first phase of development, expected to open by 2018, and then a larger-scale distillery to come on line by 2021 which together would produce more than seven million bottles annually.

Simpson & Brown Architects are behind the proposals.

Simpson & Brown Architects to work on National Marine Centre project

National Marine Centre projectThe architects behind the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick have been appointed to lead work on developing outline proposals for a new National Marine Centre.

Simpson & Brown Architects worked on the original Scottish Seabird Centre building which became a very popular landmark when it opened to the public in May 2000 and has won several architectural and sustainability awards.

The project’s success has led to the practice being appointed to design other visitor attractions over the last 16 years including the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, the Dawyck Gateway at the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Arbroath Abbey Visitor Centre, York Art Gallery and, most recently, Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre and Museum.

Under the latest commission, Simpson & Brown will be tasked with enhancing the National Marine Centre exhibition space and accommodating a range of activities and events within a two-year funding deadline.

The project team will be led by partners Andy Davey and Susan Whittle alongside associate Jenny Phillips.

Andy Davey said: “Our team is delighted to be involved with the National Marine Centre Project. We are immensely proud of the Seabird Centre building and believe we are ideally placed to develop and strengthen the design to make it even more inspirational as well as functional for visitors and staff.

“Our work focuses on respecting the past and responding to the challenges for the future, particularly with regards to environmentally sound, sustainable design. As these aspects will be a core focus for the National Marine Centre project we look forward to researching, consulting and developing the designs in partnership with the Seabird Centre team and key stakeholders.”

Grace Martin, project director for the National Marine Centre, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Simpson & Brown. Andy and his team have a very strong association with the current building and a wealth of experience in visitor attractions, sustainability and sympathetic design.

“It is still very early days with the project and we are currently in a period of public consultation. Going forward, Simpson & Brown will be keen to engage with visitors and non-visitors alike to help them identify how best to enhance the existing, iconic Seabird Centre building.”

Music school plan for Royal High School gains full council approval

St Mary Music SchoolThe fate of Edinburgh’s Old Royal High School has moved a step closer to being decided after the City of Edinburgh Council unanimously approved plans to transform the building into a music school.

Under the plans submitted by the Royal High School Preservation Trust, the A-listed former school will become home to Scotland’s only independent music school, St Mary’s Music School.

City councillors agreed permission should last for seven years instead of the normal three to give the project the maximum chance of completion due to a contract with the developers behind a rival bid for the building.

Plans for a £75 million luxury hotel were narrowly rejected in December, though an appeal to the Scottish Government is scheduled to begin on November 28.

Despite the approval of the music school plans, St Mary’s currently has no right to the building because of an existing agreement between the council and hotel developers Duddingston House Properties, which it is understood may not expire until 2022.

Planning convener Ian Perry said the committee had agreed to a seven-year expiry on consent for the music school because of the unique situation with the other application being appealed.

“That will need to run its course,” he said. “It’s not unusual in the circumstances to give a developer extra time.”

Designed by Richard Murphy Architects and Simpson & Brown, the music school proposals include a performance space located in the main hall of the Hamilton building and two ancillary rooms, and a “glazed slot within the portico floor of the Hamilton building” and “glass balustrade on the terrace to the portico”.

New single-storey accommodation is also proposed for the site and demolition of the existing classroom block to the north west of the Hamilton Building and the gymnasium building to the north east of the Hamilton Building.

The project was recommended for approval by planning officials last week who said the music school would bring the building back into “long-term, sustainable future use” and would be a “significant conservation gain”.

Trust chairman William Gray Muir said: “The former Royal High School is pivotal to Edinburgh’s World Heritage status and our plans are designed to celebrate, conserve and enhance the site for the people of Edinburgh.

“By making it home to St Mary’s Music School we also hope to reinforce musical education at the heart of the city’s cultural heritage.

“We are delighted that our proposals have received unanimous approval, with the City of Edinburgh Council granting us a special, extended seven-year time-scale for planning and listed building consent.”

He added: “This is a wonderful opportunity to transform a building at risk into a dynamic asset for students, residents, visitors to the city, educational and cultural organisations and the creative sector as a whole.”

Dr Kenneth Taylor, head teacher at St Mary’s Music School, currently based in Edinburgh’s Grosvenor Crescent, added: “A move to the Royal High School under the trust’s plans would enable St Mary’s Music School to have the performance space we have always aspired to.

“It will enable us to bring music lovers into the school and greatly expand our outreach activities.”

The building at the bottom of Calton Hill was designed by Scottish architect Thomas Hamilton in 1825.