Contenders for crown of ‘Scotland’s best building’ revealed

A two-bedroom timber micro home built in the Highlands in four days, the rebirth of a former “welly boot” factory in Edinburgh, a giant box created to protect a Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece from the weather and a multi-million overhaul of Aberdeen Art Gallery will compete to be named Scotland's “best building” this year.

Mary Arnold-Forster Architects created the design for An Cala, a two-bedroom micro-home in Sutherland overlooking Loch Nedd.
Mary Arnold-Forster Architects created the design for An Cala, a two-bedroom micro-home in Sutherland overlooking Loch Nedd.

The transformation of a former egg shed into a new tourism and heritage centre, a new base for artificial intelligence research in Edinburgh, a student housing development below Edinburgh Castle and a primary school in Newton Mearns are also in contention for the annual Doolan Prize.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has named 14 projects as winners of its annual awards, including a holiday home created by transforming a derelict cottage in Sutherland that dates back to the 19th century and a movable one-bedroom home on the Isle of Skye.

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They all make up the “long list” for the Doolan Prize – the winner of which will be announced in November.

The revamp for Aberdeen Art Gallery was designed by Gavin Hoskins Architects. Picture: Gillian Hayes
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Previous winners include a new distillery building and visitor centre for the whisky brand Macallan in Moray, an expansion of an Andrew Carnegie-funded library in Dunfermline, a new Maggie’s cancer care centre in Glasgow and an overhaul of the National Museum of Scotland’s Victorian building.

A new National Sports Training Centre in Inverclyde, a new hospice in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park and two new housing projects in Glasgow have also been honoured by the RIAS.

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An Cala, which architect Mary Arnold-Forster designed to match the size of a lorry, was made off-site and transported up a single-track line, where it was erected on a site overlooking Loch Nedd, in Lairg, Sutherland. It is said to need no heating other than from a small wood burner.

Oliver Chapman Architects used flood resistant materials to turn a former egg storage facility in Ardrishaig into a new hub to tell the story of the Crinan Canal and its local communities.

A new home for the Edinburgh Printmakers was created in a former Wellington Boot factory..

Edinburgh University’s new Bayes Centre is a innovation hub for data science and artificial Intelligence. The former North British Rubber Factory, which once employed more than 8,000 people to make boots, tyres, golf balls and hot water bottles, was separately converted into a new home for the Edinburgh Printmakers arts organisation.

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Hoskins Architects spent a decade working on the transformation of Aberdeen’s historic art gallery, while the box created for the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Hill House in Helensburgh is expected to remain in place for several years while the building is dried out, repaired and restored.

RIAS president Christina Gaiger said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of our built environment to individuals and communities, and our awards are a moment to pause and celebrate the incredible difference that architects are making across the country.

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“This year’s RIAS Awards demonstrate the critical role architecture can play – whether that is delivering better homes and public services, addressing climate change, celebrating our shared culture and heritage, or simply giving moments of real delight.

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Hill House in Helensburgh has been given a protective covering to help secure its future.

“There is a real breadth in this year’s clutch and each of them is a very worthy winner.”

A former egg store in Ardrishaig has been tranformed into a new heritage attraction to tell the story of the Crinan Canal. Picture: Angus Bremner



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