Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Scottish Ballet HQ wins Scottish Design Awards

Scottish Ballet HQ, Southside, Glasgow, Malcolm Fraser Architects

Yes I did consider as a heading 'bally good show' and stuff about 'grands jetes for joy' or some such, but of course ghastly puns of that sort are not really what this blog is about... she lied.

However, after the pleasure of the nomination but disappointment of no award for Malcolm Fraser Architects' Scottish Ballet HQ in Glasgow (although MFA's Infirmary Street Baths in Edinburgh won a RIBA Regional Award, as reported on the post about the building

- how is Scotland a Region I wonder?)

I am delighted to report that not only did Scottish Ballet HQ win the Best Public Building category in the Scottish Design Awards, but also the overall 'big' award, best of the best, the Architecture Grand Prix. Considering the strength of the entries, not limited to buildings in Scotland, this is an outstanding achievement, particularly so given the major expertise of the judging panel, who could clearly see beyond the fact this isn't silly shapemaking, or 'iconic' tower, but something totally original, thoughtful, clever and a building which above all works and is loved by those who commissioned it and use it.

Why am I so delighted? Well, regular readers will appreciate I have been singing its praises in several blogs, so it's good to have my own obviously exquisite architectural taste backed up by others who clearly know a bit about buildings. 

A small sample of past posts about this:

....The other dates from 2009, one century later, and on the outside is frankly quite industrial looking, albeit fittingly and elegantly so, in the context, a modern interpretation of ‘wrinkly tin’, and factory style saw toothed roof, an addition to an existing re-use of a historic tramshed in Glasgow...


from which there are a number of links to sources of information, pictures etc.


Here's Malcolm Fraser Architects' own site:

and many pictures and info here:

As reported in Building Design today:

The annual awards, presented in Glasgow last Friday, were judged by an architecture panel chaired by Roger Zogolovitch.

Judges included Simon Allford, Renato Benedetti, Professor David Dunster and directors from Adams Kara Taylor, Eric Parry, Tony Fretton, Pascall & Watson, Hopkins and Feilden Clegg Bradley.

Graeme Massie was awarded Architect of the Year and the awards for place making and public realm, while Tom Elder and Dick Cannon of Elder & Cannon were given a lifetime achievement award.

Groves-Raines architects were awarded the Chairman’s Award for Architecture for a £22,000 composting shed.

Full list of nominations and awards here:

On the architecture side, the Grand Prix went to Malcolm Fraser Architects for Scottish Ballet at the Tramway. Judge Gerry O’Brien from Adams Kara Taylor said this was a worthy winner as “The circulation is good; it’s grappling with many complexities. It’s one of the most pleasant spaces you could find, all the people in there loved it to death despite a difficult urban locale.“


Pic of new Scottish Ballet HQ, Glasgow, courtesy of here:

Scottish Ballet:

Scottish Ballet is delighted that its new national headquarters, designed by Malcolm Fraser Architects, has received two prizes at the prestigious Scottish Design Awards: BestPublicBuilding and the Architecture Grand Prix.

Speaking at the Scottish Design Awards ceremony on Friday 28th May, one of the judging panel, Gerry O’Brien from Adams Kara Taylor, said “It’s one of the most pleasant spaces you could find. All the people in there loved it.”

Scottish Ballet’s Chief Executive, Cindy Sughrue, added: “I’m thrilled that Malcolm Fraser Architects have received the recognition they deserve for designing a truly wonderful building. It has completely transformed how we work.”

Review from Architecture Today:

A century ago, also in Glasgow, Charles Rennie Mackintosh adopted JD Sedding’s motto, ‘There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist’. Malcolm Fraser Architects’ achievement at the Scottish Ballet has been to discover an underlying order in a complex programme and to express this in a simple, but appropriate language. There is no artifice, just honest attention to the client’s needs transformed by sound architectural judgement.

A blast from the past, an article from 2007;  possibly Malcolm  Fraser, currently Geddes Honorary Professorial Fellow at Edinburgh Uni School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, can now be seen to be a 'leading' architect full stop, and not simply  'one of Scotland's leading architects', good though that is?

"I was a late starter, but maybe there's a virtue in taking your time about these things. It took time to discover my confidence. But now I see that the wonderful thing about being an architect is knowing that wherever you are, there are people in your buildings, enjoying them. That's the joy."

Indeed. I spent some time in one of Malcolm Fraser's most loved buildings, the Scottish Poetry Library, last weekend, with a group of other very appreciative people;  it was indeed a joy.


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