Surgeons’ Hall revamp up for architecture prize

The interior of the revamped Surgeons' Hall
The interior of the revamped Surgeons' Hall
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The new Surgeons’ Hall museums project is among buildings shortlisted for one of Scotland’s most prestigious architecture prizes.

A total of 23 projects are competing for the 2016 Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland/Royal Institute of British Architects awards, with winners announced in June.

The £3.5 million Surgeons’ Hall revamp, by John McAslan and partners, has introduced direct access to the historic museums via a new glazed linking building.

Inserted between two Grade A-listed buildings, the new link, clad in aluminium curtain walling around a lightweight glazed structure, contrasts with the heavy masonry of the existing buildings.

Willie Watt, RIAS president, chairing this year’s RIAS/RIBA awards, said the shortlist celebrated Scotland’s best architecture, whether on a small or grand scale.

“It seems appropriate, in this RIAS centenary year, that we have such a strong and diverse shortlist.

“While fees and procurement continue to challenge all of us, our awards celebrate the very best being built in Scotland.

“This is a tremendous list which goes in scale from a small house extension/reconfiguration to major education provision.

“Geographically although, unusually, there are no island visits, we will travel from a factory in Dumfriesshire to a lookout tower in Sutherland. “This is a list that fully demonstrates the privilege of living in our magnificent wee country and just how architects have embraced the responsibility that brings with it.”

Other buildings to make the list include the Forsinard Lookout tower in Sutherland by Icosis Architects which gives visitors a striking view out over the Flow Country’s peat bogs and pools.

The £12m East Kilbride health centre by Reiach and Hall Architects, which features an atrium with views looking outwards and social space at the heart of the building, is also nominated.

Another eye-catching entry is the £6.6m Helensburgh town centre public realm by Austin-Smith:Lord LLP.

The design ethos was to create a town centre with attractive and flexible public spaces to support community events, festivals and markets. The final works consists of walkways, soft landscaped areas, trees and lighting columns.

Neil Baxter, secretary and treasurer of the RIAS, said: “What is really, really interesting about this shortlist is that so many of them are in ‘edge’ locations, off the beaten track for many people. Some of Scotland’s most remote places are getting architecture of an incredible high quality, showing not everything has to be concentrated in the cities.”