Four Lothians buildings up for architects award

The Chapel of Saint Albert the Great. Picture: GARETH EASTON
The Chapel of Saint Albert the Great. Picture: GARETH EASTON
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THE Revamped Assembly Rooms and a small chapel are among four local buildings nominated for a prestigious Scottish architecture award.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) narrowed 75 Scottish submissions down to a shortlist of 25, with four coming from the Lothians.

The Assembly Rooms on George Street. Picture: Greg Macvean

The Assembly Rooms on George Street. Picture: Greg Macvean

The Assembly Rooms on George Street, The Chapel of Saint Albert the Great on George Square, Sugarhouse Close student accommodation in Holyrood, and Rosslyn Chapel’a visitor centre in Roslin are all in the running for an RIAS award. All four buildings were restored, refurbished or erected to serve the Lothian community, and all four want the recognition of the RIAS award, which is seen as a benchmark of architectural achievement in Scotland.

Before the winners are announced on June 12, judges from the RIAS panel will visit every single shortlisted building to inform their decision. RIAS is not limited in the number of awards it decides to give, and all four Lothian projects could receive the recognition.

RIAS president Sholto Humphries said: “Looking at the quality of this list, the task ahead of us will be a tough one.

RIAS secretary Neil Baxter said: “the economic climate for architecture continues to be really tough and it is a huge credit to the profession in Scotland that the remarkable work illustrated in these submissions is still being produced. Scotland’s architectural renaissance continues!”



Kieran Gaffney, of award-winning Kieran Gaffney Architects, heaped praise on the Rosslyn project.

He said: “It’s a beautiful and clear building. The over-sailing roof looks Japanese inspired and the structure which is exposed on the interior is beautifully engineered and detailed – a crisscross of timbers.”

The Chapel of Saint Albert the Great

THE chapel was moved from the first floor to a garden building that had a greater capacity and was wheelchair accessible. “We’ve been given a very fine chapel,” said Father Dermot Morrin. “I’m very pleased to see it being recognised. The chapel does improve people’s lives. It provides a very beautiful, powerful, and simple space, open all day.”

Rosslyn Chapel. Picture: Julie Bull

Rosslyn Chapel. Picture: Julie Bull

The Assembly Rooms

PERHAPS the best-known of the nominated Lothian projects is the dual restoration and refurbishment of George Street’s Assembly Rooms. The 18-month refurbishment, which cost more than £9 million, balanced a modernisation of the space with the A-listed building’s beauty and 18th century character. Cllr Richard Lewis said: “It was restored not just to its former glory but to where it belongs – at the very heart of Edinburgh life.”

Sugarhouse Close

SUGARHOUSE Close in Holyrood was developed into accommodation for 300 students. The architects worked with the rich historic context to meet the needs of modern students and the feel of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town, reopening a view of Arthur’s Seat and a passageway to the Royal Mile.

Rosslyn Chapel

A VISITORS’ centre was erected at the world-famous chapel. Director of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, Ian Gardner, said: “All the income it generates goes back into supporting the conservation of the 1446 chapel. It’s a very famous and very precious building. The centre complements it in a very sensitive way.”

The shortlist

Abbotsford Visitor Reception Building, Melrose; An Cridhe, Isle of Coll; Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh; The Barony Centre, North Ayrshire; The Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock; The Chapel of Saint Albert the Great, Edinburgh; Dunfermline High School, Dunfermline; The Dutch Barn, Insch; Forth Valley College of Further and Higher Education, Stirling Campus; The Ghost of Water Row, Govan; The Glad Cafe, Glasgow; House, Lenzie; Linsiadar (4), Isle of Lewis; Malin House, Dunstaffnage; Mareel, Lerwick; The Olympia, Glasgow; Phoenix Flowers, Glasgow; Rosslyn Chapel Conservation & Visitors’ Centre, Roslin; Sugarhouse Close, Edinburgh; Thomas Telford Parliamentary Church, Berneray, North Uist; The Transient Gallery; Turf House, Skye; University of Aberdeen New Library, Aberdeen; WASPS South Block, Glasgow; Wormit Extension, Fife.