Trio of Scottish projects secure RIBA National Awards

Rockvilla National Theatre of Scotland HQThree Scottish projects have today been named on a 49-strong shortlist for the UK’s best building of the year by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The City of Glasgow College’s City Campus by Reiach and Hall Architects and Michael Laird Architects, Ann Nisbet Studio’s Newhouse of Auchengee and the National Theatre of Scotland’s Rockvilla by Hoskins Architects were all awarded a RIBA National Award 2017 for architecture which recognises the best buildings created in the last 12 months.

A shortlist for the prestigious Stirling Prize will be selected from this year’s diverse list, which showcases the breadth and scale of projects across the UK.

City of Glasgow College - City Campus

Images courtesy of Keith Hunter

The merger of Glasgow’s central, metropolitan and nautical colleges created a super college bringing together facilities and teaching previously housed in 11 separate buildings across the city within two new central campuses. City Campus, more than 60,000m2 in size, is the second of these large new buildings. It brings together six major faculties in 300 high-tech classrooms, multi-purpose lecture theatres and specialist teaching facilities.

While the initial impression of this building is as something of immense scale which also signals its presence as an important place of learning, its internal spaces are designed to encourage both the formal teaching processes which it contains and informal, more chance encounters. The materials palette and form of the building are deliberately restrained to generate something of skill, clarity and elegance, on the grandest scale.

There is an astonishing scale and complexity to the brief for this project and considerable architectural skill is demonstrated in its realisation; not just in resolving the brief, but in the contribution to the city – in massing, composition and the generosity of the public route through the grand stepped atrium space. This architectural skill extends beyond the cityscape through to the detailed care taken in the organisation of student spaces, encouraging social interaction across disciplines, to the considered approach to materials and detailing.

Newhouse of Auchengee

Images courtesy of David Barbour

This contemporary farmhouse pays homage to the aesthetic of historic farm buildings in this part of North Ayrshire. On an elevation, commanding long views over the agricultural landscape, the building is a cluster of separate spaces, reflecting the way that rural buildings were developed and extended over decades past.

On this windswept site the cluster is composed carefully to create shelter and in doing so, a captivating arrival sequence - the long drive up the hill set on axis with a pend that at first sight frames a view to the sky beyond and then leads to an entrance court. It is a composition that successfully controls the elements, captures views and mediates between the scale of the wider landscape and the intimate scale of the dwelling.

The main public spaces and bedrooms are set within a two-storey section with the master bedroom within a linear single-storey area and an annex, accessed via the courtyard, offering a further two bedrooms. The whole composition clusters around a three sided courtyard to the east and a sheltered terrace to the south-west.

The zinc external cladding reflects the light and cloud patterns of its elevated setting which plays upon a building which is contemporary, contextual and in harmony with the light and life of its locale.

Born out of careful research into the unique vernacular of North Ayrshire this is a project with a strong sense of place – truly a building of its landscape.


Images courtesy of Dapple Photography

Set within a disused industrial warehouse in a previously neglected area of Glasgow, this new facility brings together departments of Scotland’s National Theatre previously scattered across several locations. This “creative engine room” for the Company will help it fulfil its national and international mission as a focus for the best of theatre in Scotland.

The building’s elevated canalside setting at the northern edge of Glasgow city centre, enables good access while helping to restore life to an area which was once a key transport artery and bustling inner-urban port.

The existing structural frame was retained and re-clad to reinforce the industrial aesthetic. A restrained internal palette continues the theme, housing a double-height atrium/social space, rehearsal spaces, offices and meeting rooms.

The architects intervention is restrained and modest allowing the creative focus to belong to the inhabitants. There is however a mature sophistication to the architectural restraint, from strategic planning, entry sequence and hierarchy, through to choice of materials and careful detailing - everything is carefully judged. The result is embraced by its new occupants – they refer to their new ‘place of imagination, learning and play’.

The building will help to reinforce the role and standing of the National Theatre as well contributing to the regeneration of North Glasgow.

“RIBA National Awards provide insight into emerging design trends, as well as showing how well the profession responds to economic drivers. I am delighted to see such confident, innovative and ambitious architecture delivered in such challenging times,” said RIBA president Jane Duncan.

“The lack of high-quality new housing is a huge issue in the UK so I am particularly pleased to see great examples of well-designed, sustainable new homes amongst our award winners,” she added.

“We all deserve a well-designed, affordable home, wherever we live in the country. I encourage other local authorities, developers and clients to look at these projects as exemplars.”

Also among this year’s winners is the visitor attraction British Airways i360, which was designed by Marks Barfield Architects for the Brighton seafront, and the Victoria Gate shopping centre in Leeds.

The monumental extension to the Tate Modern on London’s Bankside, an eco straw-clad office building in Norwich and a striking new biomass power plant in Sheffield were also given a nod.

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