Scotland’s best buildings unveiled as RIAS names 2019 Awards winners



The very best of current Scottish architecture was recognised in Edinburgh last night as the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) announced ten winners of its 2019 Awards.

Whittled down from a shortlist of 19 unveiled back in March, the winners were (in alphabetical order):

The Black House, Isle of Skye - Dualchas Architects Ltd for a Private Client

The Black House (c) David Barbour

Judges said: “The decision of the architects to locate this black timbered house within a dipping rocky depression close to the water’s edge has enabled it to engage less directly with the nearby road, have a reduced profile in the landscape and develop a stronger connection with the sea. The fully glazed end wall of the main living space frames a spectacular view across the water to rugged hills on the other side of the inlet, while reflected light provides an ever-changing pattern across the white interior. There is a persuasive integrity to the rigorous use of pure rectangular forms, the strictly limited palette of colour and materials, and the consistent purity of minimalist detailing throughout, which enriched by the inclusion of the art and artefacts of the owners, have succeeded in creating a calm, inviting and exceptional home.”

Briongos MacKinnon House, Strathaven - Richard Murphy Architects Limited for Colin MacKinnon

Briongos MacKinnon House (c) Martin Lambie

Judges said: “The Briongos Mackinnon house has been designed to the very specific and individualistic brief provided by the clients who enjoy microlight flying and own the airfield on which the house sits. The cheerfully idiosyncratic built form and choice of external cladding material sit entirely comfortably with the neighbouring semi-industrial hangar buildings. Whilst the layout is extremely well organised, it is also enormously creative and highly customised to reflect both the specific requirements and indeed the personalities of the client. The layout, proportions and quality of internal spaces deliver excellent levels of comfort and practicality. This is a light, airy and joyful building which, as well as a family home, provides highly effective and attractive separate workspaces for both its owners. All in all a house of surprise and delight.”

Broomlands Primary School, Kelso (£8m) - Stallan-Brand Architecture + Design Ltd for Scottish Borders Council

Broomlands Primary School (c) Andrew Lee

Judges said: “The visitor to this building is engaged from the moment of arrival at the site by the powerful imagery of the cantilevered projecting pointed roofs and the cobalt stone gabion external walls which extend from the exterior landscape to form the external wall to the school building. These distinctive roofs, in addition to providing a memorable architectural introduction, form canopies to facilitate outdoor learning activities. The internal layout of the school provides a flexible variety of pleasant semi-enclosed and fully open-plan teaching spaces at ground and first floor levels, both of which have direct access to external play areas and the mature landscaped grounds. This is achieved at first floor level by integrated external walkways which allow the building to connect seamlessly to the luxuriant outside spaces.”

Collective on Calton Hill, Edinburgh (£4m) - Collective Architecture (original architectural practice – Malcolm Fraser Architects*) for City of Edinburgh Council and Collective

Collective on Calton Hill (c) Susie Lowe

Judges said: “The project on Calton Hill is the result of a strong and highly successful collaboration between the two client bodies and the design team.  A shared vision from the outset of the project has driven the design from inception to completion producing a number of bold, contemporary interventions which successfully achieve a unifying functional coherence with the sensitively restored historic buildings on this site of national significance. The projecting glazed corner of the new Outlook restaurant building, cantilevered over the site’s original boundary wall brings a bold and vibrant addition to the site’s historic skyline, visually marking to those in the city below a key step in the evolution of this important site.”

* Malcolm Fraser Architects initially won the invited competition for the project in 2014, secured planning permission and progressed detailed design. The project moved to Collective Architecture during 2015 and the practice saw this through to completion in 2018.

The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience, Craigellachie (£140m) - Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for Edrington

The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience (c) Joas Souza

Judges said: “The rolling roofscape of this building echoes the form of the surrounding hills and serves to successfully conceal an exceptionally well resolved and ingenious fusion of architecture, whiskey technology and impactful interior settings displaying the heritage of the Macallan brand. A processional landscaped walkway symbolically and physically connects the 18th century laird’s house at the heart of the estate with the new visitor centre. The internal journey continues under a warmly lit majestic double curvature timber gridshell roof. The combination of atmospheric lighting with the architectural form and the intriguing arrangement of stills and exhibits creates a sense of drama throughout this hugely impressive building. Views through the extensive fully glazed section of the main elevation framed between the floor and the curving eaves provide a constant link between the new building and the enchanting scenery of the Spey River, the source of water that brought the distillery to the site.”

Mackintosh at the Willow, Glasgow - Simpson & Brown for Willow Tea Rooms Trust

Mackintosh at the Willow (c) Alexander Fraser

Judges said: “This remarkable combined restoration and new building project is testament both to the passion and dedication of the client and to the intensive efforts of the architects in relation to the level of detail of the research which facilitated the truly excellent quality of restoration achieved. The original building is a much-admired and rare example of a complete Art Nouveau scheme. Its immaculate and captivating restoration has provided an invaluable reminder of the immense creativity of Mackintosh and has already attracted significant international interest. The adjoining building was purchased by the client and is now a well-mannered and sensitively integrated contemporary addition which provides the additional space required to accommodate the extensive support facilities, including a shop and exhibition and education areas, required for this world class visitor experience.”

The Raining’s Stairs Development, Inverness - Trail Architects for Ark Estates

The Raining’s Stairs Development (c) Ewen Weatherspoon

Judges said: “This social housing development is an inspired but pragmatic and affordable resolution of a difficult, extremely steep and almost inaccessible site located in the centre of Inverness. Its implementation has transformed and revitalised what was an all but abandoned no-go area of the city. The pleasant and now frequently used external public stairway and pedestrian route both links the streets at the top and bottom of this site and gives access to a series of external landings serving the three tiers of housing which provide sixteen much needed flats. Though a very compact development, the architect’s innovative layout has intentionally enabled the main living area of each flat to benefit from attractive southerly views over the city, further adding to the evident desirability of these cleverly-planned affordable homes.”

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service – The Jack Copland Centre, Edinburgh (£30m) - Reiach and Hall Architects for Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service

Jack Copland Centre (c) Andrew Lee

Judges said: “This is a highly resolved and elegantly controlled solution to a demanding technical brief. A central predominantly white street, which bisects the building into administrative and laboratory zones, bathes in the changing light from a series of oculi in the roof three levels above. The experience of the street is further enriched by warm splashes of colour from the integrated piece of art that runs the full length of the street. The extensive use of fully glazed walls openly reveals what more normally would be hidden laboratory-based activities, transforming the more typical clinically driven enclosed architectural response for this type of project to an open, bright, engaging and uplifting place of work which is already facilitating to the benefit of the service previously untapped opportunities for greater collaboration between staff.”

Tollcross Housing Association Offices, Glasgow (£2.92m) - Elder and Cannon Architects for Tollcross Housing Association

Tollcross Housing Association Offices (c) Andrew Lee

Judges said: “This new headquarters for Tollcross Housing Association is both externally and internally a rigorously ordered and beautifully detailed solution for this significant site which sits on a corner at the end of a tenement block. The open plan office spaces are arranged as a series of rising, interconnecting volumes linked by a central sculptural staircase. The result is an elegant and refined building which allows three separate administrative departments to co-habit in a way which encourages crossdisciplinary engagement and dialogue but without sacrificing acoustic performance. It was evident that a shared vision and close working relationship between client and architect were key to the success of this excellent building.”

V&A Dundee (£80.1m) - Kengo Kuma & Associates with PiM.studio Architects and James F Stephen Architects for Dundee City Council

V&A Dundee (c) HuftonCrow

Judges said: “Scotland’s first dedicated design museum is itself an example of the highest level of architectural ingenuity. This building simultaneously stimulates, engages and intrigues visitors. Its unique geometric forms, sitting between the city and the river, draw on a relationship to the water and form an unstated connection to the historical HMS Discovery docked alongside. On approach the building engenders an exciting sense of anticipation as the complex geometry seamlessly reveals the intriguing interior opening out into the voluminous main entrance hall, intended by client and architects to act as a ‘living room for the city’. The first floor contains a consummately detailed restaurant area with dramatic views over HMS Discovery. The primary areas of this floor provide high quality flexible exhibition spaces housing inspiring examples of both the rich heritage of design creativity in Scotland and the work of contemporary Scottish designers, in the supportive setting of this equally inspiring building.”

Jury chair, Prof. John Cole CBE Hon FRIAS, said: “The journey to view the nineteen shortlisted projects, which, within a hectic but rewarding three-day period, took my fellow judges and myself through the intriguing Scottish borders, the self-confident central belt, and the glorious landscapes of the highlands and islands, was for all of us a reaffirmation of the fundamental importance of the ability of architecture at its best to positively influence the lives of individuals and communities.”

In the eighth year of its awards the RIAS has again teamed up with organisations for four prestigious sub-category awards.

The winner of the Wood for Good/Scottish Forestry Award for the Best Use of Timber was The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience, Craigellachie - Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for Edrington. A commendation went to Cairngorms National Park Authority Headquarters by Moxon Architects Ltd.

Timber Award judge, Jon Stevenson, said: “The Macallan Distillery is an exceptional building. We were especially impressed by the use of Glulam and LVL as structural components in the roof domes but also were struck by the generous use of timber throughout the interior, and in particular the quality of design and craftsmanship throughout the building. We also felt that the Cairngorm National Park Authority HQ merited a commendation for a well thought through solution for a building in the heart of Grantown on Spey, with a clever combination of CLT structure and extensive use of native larch cladding.”

The winner of the Historic Environment Scotland Award for Conservation and Climate Change was Borders Distillery, Hawick - Gray Macpherson Architects.

Steven Robb, deputy head of casework, heritage directorate at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “The quality of the entries this year was fantastic, and as ever, we had a difficult task choosing a winner. After careful consideration, we decided to focus on regeneration projects within economically disadvantaged town centres.

“Therefore, we are delighted to award Borders Distillery with the Historic Environment Scotland Award for Conservation and Climate Change. Borders Distillery took an inventive approach to both architectural conservation and climate change and is the first distillery to open in the Borders in almost 200 years.

“As well as the winning project, we awarded our commendation to two projects - Ingram centre in Kilmarnock and the Council Offices in Church Street, Dumbarton. Both projects celebrate the positive and practical reuse of listed buildings by local authorities.”

The winner of the Saint-Gobain Emerging Architect Award was Emma Fairhurst, Collective Architecture for Collective on Calton Hill, Edinburgh.

Stuart McKill, Saint-Gobain’s business support director, said: “This project demonstrates the best in restoration and creative redevelopment across this important World Heritage site. In delivering this project Emma has brought together old and new architecture whist giving excellent consideration to the surrounding environment. The use of materials and a prism of contemporary culture add further to the project given the sites history whilst recognising what a ‘City Observatory’ could mean today. The new structures and renovations within the site boundary are wholly appropriate delivering an ambience of light, warmth and comfort, creating a desire to explore further which is indeed the purpose. Without doubt Emma’s solution to the site will bring much interest, enjoyment and engagement to this project and all who visit for many years to come. As such Emma is a most worthy winner of this year’s Saint-Gobain Emerging Architect Award.”

The winner of the Scottish Government Scotland’s Client of the Year Award was The Willow Tea Rooms Trust for Mackintosh at the Willow, Glasgow.

The 10 winners of this year’s RIAS Awards form the longlist for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award which is supported by the Doolan Family and the Scottish Government. The Doolan Award will be presented by the Scottish Government and the Doolan family at the RIAS Convention Dinner on October 4 in Edinburgh.

The RIBA National Awards in Scotland will be announced on June 27.

Tags: RIAS



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