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Strong shortlist named for new Orkney arts centres

Contest site: Linkshouse Birsay
Contest site: Linkshouse Birsay

Six finalists have been named in the competition to design two new satellite venues for the Pier Arts Centre in Orkney

The shortlist features Assemble with Office Corr Higgins, and Reiach and Hall Architects – which completed a major overhaul of the Pier Arts Centre in 2008 and has teamed up with STUDIO NIRO for the latest contest

Also in the running are Ann Nisbet Studio Architects, Denizen Works, Oberlanders Architects, and Mary Arnold-Forster Architects in collaboration with Haworth Tompkins.

The RIAS-organised competition will select a team to design a creative arts centre in the Stromness Post Office opposite the Pier Arts Centre and a residency centre at nearby Linkshouse Birsay (pictured).


Key aims of the schemes include allowing the cultural hub to ‘broaden its cultural, social and economic offer and help diversify its income opportunities while growing the arts in Orkney and supporting community engagement’.

The contest, launched in July, is being held 15 years after Reiach and Hall Architects completed a £2.9 million upgrade of the waterfront Pier Arts Centre, which was originally designed by Kate Heron and Levitt Bernstein in 1979 and displays artworks donated by the author and peace activist Margaret Gardiner. Reiach and Hall’s scheme won the 2007 Andrew Doolan award for best building in Scotland.

Stromness is the second largest settlement on Orkney with a population of around 2,200. Fraser/Livingstone Architects won a contract to masterplan around 45 new homes across a range of sites in the south of Stromness last year.

The two new developments aim to provide new ways for audiences to engage with and experience creativity in Orkney while also providing new income-generating opportunities for the gallery.

Round one applications were evaluated 100 per cent on quality. The six shortlisted teams will be invited to attend a site visit and interview with round two bids to be evaluated 90 per cent on quality and 10 per cent on cost. No design proposals will be required.


An overall winner is expected to be announced in October.

The shortlist

Assemble in collaboration with Office Corr Higgins Team also includes: Rankin Fraser (Landscape Architects), Local Works, Narro Associates (Structural Engineers), Max Fordham (Services + Sustainability Engineers)

A Team led by Ann Nisbet Studio Architects Team also includes: Narro Associates (Structural Engineer), Rybka (Mechanical Engineer), Fiona Sinclair (Conservation), Ann Nisbet Studio (Access Consultant)

A team led by Denizen Works Team also includes: Narro Associates (Structural Engineer), Max Fordham (M&E Engineer), Adams Consulting Group (Access Consultant), OFR Consultants (Fire Engineer), Sandy Brown (Acoustician)

Reiach and Hall Architects with STUDIO NIRO Team also includes: Narro Associates (Structural Engineers), Max Fordham (Services + Sustainability Engineers), Horner McLennan (Landscape Architects), Alliance CDM (Principal Designer)

Mary Arnold-Forster Architects in collaboration with Haworth Tompkins Team also includes: Elliot & Company Consulting Engineers (Structural Engineer), Luths Services (M&E), Buro Happold (Fire Engineer, Acoustician, and Access Consultant)

A team led by Oberlanders Architects Team also includes: Harley Haddow (M&E), RMP (Acoustic Consultant), Adams Consulting (Access Consultant)

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