Shortlist revealed for Perth City Hall transformation
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.”