Morris & Spottiswood completes Scottish Poetry Library extension

Scottish Poetry Library3
All images courtesy of Eddie Phillips Lighthouse Photography

Scotland based fit-out contractor Morris & Spottiswood has completed a project to help transform Edinburgh’s famous Scottish Poetry Library.

Morris & Spottiswood successfully secured a one-off tender to build a single-storey extension to the front of the building – located just off the Royal Mile – as well as an external terrace space to accommodate poetry readings.

The Creative Scotland and Edinburgh Council-backed facility, which holds the largest open-access collection of Scottish poetry in the world, has since re-opened following a £380,000 revamp.

Steven Welch
Steven Welch

Contracts manager Steven Welch said Morris & Spottiswood worked closely with Dundee-based architects Nicoll Russell Studios to adapt to the complexities of the project.

“For a relatively small project it proved to be quite complicated,” he said. “We were tasked with constructing an extension to the front of the building including an external terrace area for poetry nights and other social gatherings, which substantially increased the footprint of the existing building.

“The design presented a number of unusual challenges on what was a very tight site. The existing external stair and garage had become redundant over the years and these have been replaced with a cleverly-designed extension that seamlessly unites the new building with the existing, re-using timber cladding panels, glazed screens and even the blue glazed brickwork.

“Removing parts of the existing structure, while retaining and extending its fabric and capacity were not without their difficulties, but this project was a good example of the benefits of close partnership working involving the end user and all members of the design team throughout.”

The three-storey Scottish Poetry Library, the only independently constituted and housed poetry library in Europe, holds more than 45,000 books.

At the re-opening event culture secretary Fiona Hyslop described it as “truly unique” while the National Poet for Scotland, Liz Lochhead, said the new incarnation was “even more user-friendly than before”.

In addition to the new extension and terrace area, it also now has a new soundproof space to allow poetry to be recorded, as well as improved reading and education facilities and a retail area.

Steven Welch said the Morris & Spottiswood’s M & E team played an important role in the delivery of the Scottish Poetry Library project.

“With the continued growth of Morris & Spottiswood’s M & E department we can deliver a one-stop solution from survey and inspection through to design and installation,” he said. “This gives clients like the Scottish Poetry Library the benefit of a one team delivery solution for the entire project, which spares them the management headache of dealing with numerous contractors and helps to save both time and overheads.

“Although this project was a one-off, there are a couple of people on the Scottish Poetry Library board who have expressed an interest in our services so there is a potential for further work on the back of this project too.”

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