St Andrews development named Scotland’s best building

West Burn Lane
West Burn Lane

A residential and commercial development in St Andrews has won the title of best building in Scotland.

West Burn Lane, designed by Sutherland Hussey Harris, has been awarded the Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award for 2015 by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

The winners were chosen from a shortlist of twelve projects and received a cheque for £25,000 at the prize-giving event last night at the National Museum of Scotland, which won the award in 2011. The prize was presented by cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, Ms Fiona Hyslop MSP alongside Mrs Margaret Doolan Hon FRIAS (the late Andrew Doolan’s mother).

The full judges’ citation said the commercial residential development was “expertly woven into the existing fabric of St Andrews, although uncompromisingly contemporary, the development acknowledges the historic street pattern and scale of its special context.

“While the built fabric in the vicinity is predominantly structural stone, the use of a warm continental brick is appropriate and welcoming.”

The shortlisted projects included:

  1. Arcadia Nursery, Edinburgh - Malcom Fraser Architects for The University of Edinburgh
    1. Dalmunach Distillery, Moray - Archial Norr (Inverness Studio) (for Chivas Brothers (part of Pernod Ricard))

      1. Highland Steading, Blairgowrie - Marcus Lee/FLACQ and cameronwebster architects (for a private client)

        1. Lamb’s House, Edinburgh - Groves-Raines Architects Ltd (for Groves-Raines Architects)

          1. Laurieston Transformational Area, Glasgow - Page\Park Architects and Elder and Cannon Architects (for New Gorbals Housing Association)
            1. Maggie’s Lanarkshire, Airdrie - Reiach and Hall Architects (for Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres)
              1. The Mill, Scottish Borders - WT Architecture (for a private client)
                1. Regency Dormer, Edinburgh - Konishi Gaffney Architects (for a private client)
                  1. Rosefield, Edinburgh - A449 LTD (for Format Scotland LTD)
                    1. The Shields Centre, Glasgow - Anderson Bell + Christie Architects (for hub West Scotland)
                      1. Theatre Royal, Glasgow - Page \ Park Architects (for Scottish Opera)
                        1. West Burn Lane, St Andrews - Sutherland Hussey Harris (for EASTACRE Investments LLP)
                        2. However, the decision was not without controversy. When the building previously won an RIAS Award in June this year, Howard Greenwell, chairman of the local Community Council in St Andrews, said that “the only award this should be shortlisted for is Carbuncle of the Year”.

                          He went on to say: “If this wins any other prize, the architecture profession will go down several notches in my opinion as they seem to be completely dismissive of, and ignorant of, conservation issues of the town.”

                          Graham Wynd, chairman of St Andrews Preservation Trust said that he felt that “the brickwork is inappropriate, lifeless and almost industrial”. He said his main objection was that the development “protrudes too far out the lane”.

                          In response, the Secretary of RIAS, Neil Baxter, said: “It is a pity that some people are uncomfortable with anything new. This is a superb development, well worthy of one of our most important historic towns and the top architectural award in Scotland. There are worse things than continental brick, straight lines and big windows.”

                          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.

                          Fiona Hyslop MSP said: “Once again, both the worthy winner and the strength of this year’s shortlist for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Award have shown that the quality of Scotland’s new architecture stands shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world.

                          “In both our contemporary architecture and our built heritage, the RIAS has a great richness upon which to draw for its Festival of Architecture during the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design in 2016. The Scottish Government is pleased to support both of these initiatives to celebrate and promote Scottish design excellence.”

                          The judges felt that two projects merited a Special Mention, which were Arcadia Nursery in Edinburgh, designed by Malcolm Fraser Architects, and Laurieston Transformational Area in Glasgow, by Page\Park Architects and Elder and Cannon Architects.

                          The panel of judges was chaired by Willie Watt PRIAS, along with Dame Barbara Kelly Hon FRIAS, Peter McIlhenny FRIAS, Past President of the RIAS’ Inverness Chapter and Margaret Richards FRIAS, winner of last year’s RIAS Lifetime Achievement Award.

                          The panel looked for projects which showed innovation and design excellence, irrespective of size or type. Other key considerations were: detailing, accessibility, environmental issues and technical skill. From the sixty five entries for the 2015 RIAS Awards twelve were shortlisted for the ‘Doolan’.

                          Willie Watt PRIAS said: “Year on year the shortlist for this award, all winners of RIAS Awards, demonstrates the superb quality of contemporary Scottish architecture. The work of architects can be transformative, not simply of places, but of people’s lives. This shortlist testifies to that and the worthy winner is a great building of the current era which will hopefully contribute to a more enlightened approach to our historic townscapes. Well done all the architects and particular plaudits to the superb winning scheme.”

                          Other shortlisted entries:

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