Raining’s Stairs and new Tollcross offices win at Scotland’s architectural Oscars

Tollcross Housing Association’s new offices and a Highland Housing Alliance development in Inverness have been named among the very best of current Scottish architecture.

Raining’s Stairs and new Tollcross offices win at Scotland’s architectural Oscars

Tollcross Housing Association Offices (c) Andrew Lee

The projects were recognised in Edinburgh last night as the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) announced ten winners of its 2019 Awards.

The Elder and Cannon Architects-designed new Tollcross office in Glasgow was delivered at a cost of £2.92 million.

Judges said: “This new headquarters for Tollcross Housing Association is both externally and internally a rigorously ordered and beautifully detailed solution for this significant site which sits on a corner at the end of a tenement block. The open plan office spaces are arranged as a series of rising, interconnecting volumes linked by a central sculptural staircase. The result is an elegant and refined building which allows three separate administrative departments to co-habit in a way which encourages cross-disciplinary engagement and dialogue but without sacrificing acoustic performance.

“It was evident that a shared vision and close working relationship between client and architect were key to the success of this excellent building.”

Designed by Trail Architects for Ark Estates, The Raining’s Stairs development in Inverness was built in partnership with the Highland Housing Alliance, the Highland Council and William Gray Construction Ltd.

Raining’s Stairs and new Tollcross offices win at Scotland’s architectural Oscars

The Raining’s Stairs Development (c) Ewen Weatherspoon

Judges said: “This social housing development is an inspired but pragmatic and affordable resolution of a difficult, extremely steep and almost inaccessible site located in the centre of Inverness. Its implementation has transformed and revitalised what was an all but abandoned no-go area of the city.

“The pleasant and now frequently used external public stairway and pedestrian route both links the streets at the top and bottom of this site and gives access to a series of external landings serving the three tiers of housing which provide sixteen much needed flats. Though a very compact development, the architect’s innovative layout has intentionally enabled the main living area of each flat to benefit from attractive southerly views over the city, further adding to the evident desirability of these cleverly-planned affordable homes.”

Whittled down from a shortlist of 19 unveiled back in March, the other winners were (in alphabetical order):

  • The Black House, Isle of Skye - Dualchas Architects Ltd for a Private Client
  • Briongos MacKinnon House, Strathaven - Richard Murphy Architects Limited forColin MacKinnon
  • Broomlands Primary School, Kelso (£8m) - Stallan-Brand Architecture + Design Ltd for Scottish Borders Council
  • Collective on Calton Hill, Edinburgh (£4m) - Collective Architecture (original architectural practice – Malcolm Fraser Architects*)for City of Edinburgh Council and Collective

* Malcolm Fraser Architects initially won the invited competition for the project in 2014, secured planning permission and progressed detailed design. The project moved to Collective Architecture during 2015 and the practice saw this through to completion in 2018.

  • The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience, Craigellachie (£140m) - Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for Edrington
  • Mackintosh at the Willow, Glasgow - Simpson & Brown for Willow Tea Rooms Trust
  • Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service – The Jack Copland Centre, Edinburgh (£30m) - Reiach and Hall Architects for Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service
  • V&A Dundee (£80.1m) - Kengo Kuma & Associates with PiM.studio Architects and James F Stephen Architects for Dundee City Council

Jury chair, Prof. John Cole CBE Hon FRIAS, said: “The journey to view the nineteen shortlisted projects, which, within a hectic but rewarding three-day period, took my fellow judges and myself through the intriguing Scottish borders, the self-confident central belt, and the glorious landscapes of the highlands and islands, was for all of us a reaffirmation of the fundamental importance of the ability of architecture at its best to positively influence the lives of individuals and communities.”

The 10 winners of this year’s RIAS Awards form the longlist for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award which is supported by the Doolan Family and the Scottish Government. The Doolan Award will be presented by the Scottish Government and the Doolan family at the RIAS Convention Dinner on October 4 in Edinburgh.

The RIBA National Awards in Scotland will be announced on June 27.

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