AN EYECATCHING building which existed for just one night and was built with no budget has been shortlisted for Scotland’s most prestigious architecture prize alongside a range of multi-million-pound projects.
The Ghost of Water Row, an architectural art installation in Govan by Edo Architecture, is one of 25 structures to make it to the finals of The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) 2013 Awards.
The temporary pavilion, made of pale Scottish spruce and permeable fabric, will be judged against other projects including the £30 million new library at the University of Aberdeen, the restoration of the visitor centre at world-famous Rosslyn Chapel and the multi-million redevelopment of Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms.
The Ghost of Water Row – described as a fleeting pavilion designed to appear in the dark and disappear again by daylight – was designed to recall the old weaving trade that existed in Govan before it was replaced by shipbuilding in the early 20th century.
The pavilion was a community engagement project that was part of celebrations of the work of the Glaswegian sculptor George Wyllie, who died last year. It was built in November without a budget using materials and labour paid for in kind. The judges said: “It was a powerful evocation of local history while also signalling a creative future.”
One rival is a second “movable” piece of architecture, the Transient Gallery, by GRA Studio, which was originally created as part of the 2012 Venice Biennale. Constructed from curved, lightweight, interlocking panels, it can be easily transported and will appear in locations across Scotland where it will be used to display historic ornamental wellheads from the Italian city.
Another unusual creation to make it on to the shortlist is 7N Architects’ colourful Phoenix Flowers in Glasgow, a set of giant illuminated metal flowers which, the judges said “transform the underbelly of the M8 into a fantastical landscape that makes you smile. This is an ingenious way of making difficult public realm safer and more accessible”.
Some critics have argued, however, that Phoenix Flowers should not be eligible as it is not a building.
Larger-scale projects on the shortlist include Simpson and Brown Architect’s new Chapel of Saint Albert The Great, off Middle Meadow Walk in Edinburgh; a visitor centre at Abbotsford, the former home of Sir Walter Scott near Melrose, by LDN Architects; and Mareel in Lerwick, the UK’s most northerly cinema and music venue by Gareth Hoskins Architects.
A former croft house conversion, Linsiader, on the Isle of Lewis by Studio Kap, and Dunfermline High School, a major new education centre created by Fife Council Property Services, are also included.
One of the best-known buildings on the list is the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, which has undergone extensive restoration and now houses a branch of Jamie Oliver’s Italian chain of restaurants.
“The historic elegance of this important suite of performance and reception spaces has been wholly respected through restoration and adaptation, giving them a whole new lease of life and an economically positive future,” the judges said.
RIAS president Sholto Humphries said: “We had 75 submissions from throughout Scotland. This number of entries is a tremendous vote of confidence and confirms that this new award, in only its second year, is now the single most important recognition of architectural achievement.”
He added: “While we are considering an extraordinary range of projects of different scale and type, from a modest house extension to a multi-million pound large new secondary school – and, unusually, one project that doesn’t even exist – we will be rewarding those projects which we feel best address the key role of architecture, which is to improve people’s lives.
“We are not restricted in the number of awards we make, and looking at the quality of this list, the task ahead of us will be a tough one.”
Previously, the Royal Incorporation co-ordinated The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Awards for Scotland. However, in 2012, for the first time, by agreement with its sister institute, the RIAS launched its own awards.
RIAS secretary Neil Baxter said: “The fact that these awards bring together individual awards sponsored by Historic Scotland, Wood for Good/Forestry Commission Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland and incorporate the RIBA Awards for Scotland gives them real strength.
“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.”