Doolan Award 2014 - Knockando Woolmill

The winners of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Awards 2014 were announced on 18 June. The award-winning projects represent some of the very best of current Scottish architecture and each will go forward to the shortlist for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award, which will be presented on 5 November 2014 at the National Museum of Scotland. The RIAS Doolan Award is supported by the Doolan family and the Scottish Government. Over the coming weeks we will be highlighting each of these projects in our “featured project” section. The tenth of these is: Knockando Woolmill, Knockando by LDN Architects.


Knockando Woolmill is a Category A listed group of buildings in the Spey Valley, Morayshire. This project is the highly sensitive conservation of Scotland’s last surviving working woolmill, which was previously in a very run down condition. The buildings are conserved as a sustainable working mill, with changes made to the infrastructure to provide a tourist attraction and centre for training in traditional crafts, while retaining those qualities that give the site its unique historic character.  Visitor facilities and accommodation are understated, preserving and reinterpreting important elements from Scotland’s past and the weaving shed, shop, cottages have been meticulously restored.  The project is designed in such a way as to give visitors an understanding of the place and processes while avoiding overly lengthy written interpretations.


The project comprises the restoration of the original mill complex, including the mill and machinery, cottage, house and shop; the restoration and conversion of the byre to create visitor facilities; and a new conservation training workshop which will enable weaving skills to be passed on to future generations. The philosophy was to restore the site by doing as much as is necessary but changing as little as possible. The client wanted to keep the unique ‘feel’ of the place – the sights, sounds and smells of a small working woollen mill.


Knockando Woolmill has been in continuous operation since the 18th century and is one of the last remaining mills of its kind in Scotland and also in the world.   The mill and its adjoining buildings, previously very much at risk, have been given new life. The Woolmill is now open to the public and continues to sustain the manufacturing traditions of the UK’s oldest surviving district wool mill.  As a working site, its value is not as a museum, but as an embodiment of a living tradition which has great relevance in understanding the values of past rural life, and in the transfer of craft skills for commodities that continue to have a recognizable commercial value in today’s society.


Photographs © LDN Architects 

Various external views of mill buildings with internal view of machinery.