Doolan Award 2014 - Scottish Water - The Bridge

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 thirteenth of these is: Scottish Water – The Bridge, Stepps by Reiach & Hall Architects.


Located between an edge of town business park and open moorland, a key design challenge was to create a place that would give visitors and staff both an atmosphere of quality and a sense of arrival.  The elegant, colonnaded façades, created with a very restrained palette of materials, provide a formal contemporary design solution which also has associations with qualities of classicism. The building is occupied day and night every day of the year and thus significant emphasis has been placed on the provision and design of social spaces. Social facilities are central to the building and are the hub around which the building is planned.


The palette of materials has been selected to express the civic importance of the building and achieve an inherent durability. Blonde facing brick is used as the primary cladding material, which is complemented by white cast stone string courses and parapets. Glazing is framed in anodized aluminium and external metalwork is powder coated bronze. The elegant, rigorous, formal quality of the building exterior and the restraint in the palette of materials is continued within the central atrium. To the south, west and north the gradation of the masonry and glass reveals are altered to respond to the reduced scale of the surrounding spaces - allowing the façade design to become precisely tailored to its orientation and the space planning of the internal layout. Each brick pilaster is abutted internally by a desk, allowing full height glazing between the desks, providing excellent daylight to every occupant.


The architects looked to the gardens of great country houses as a precedent of how to deliver places of lasting substance and delight, in previously wild environments.  However, the grandeur and formality of these is in the spirit of the site layout proposals rather than by way picturesque recreation. This shared atrium was un-briefed and has become a civic space for Scottish Water, while at the same time satisfying the need for an efficient plan form. The building is thus organized around a dramatic central space that might be used for entertaining, conferences, music events, openings, functions, staff gatherings and informal meetings. It is linked at either end by bridge, that are widened to form shared breakout spaces each overlooking both the atrium and entrance, bringing a source of activity and life to the building as well as a core for stairs and communal facilities.


Images © Andrew Lee Photography

Combined images of interior views and front elevations