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Andrew Doolan Architects: Projects 1998-2001 At the RIAS Gallery, Rutland Square, Edinburgh


Andrew Doolan Architects: Projects 1998-2001 At the RIAS Gallery, Rutland Square, Edinburgh until 30 November

Although little more than a trade-show stand that sits glowing in the RIAS foyer, this is a welcome first outing for the work of Edinburgh-based practice Andrew Doolan Architects, writes Julian Holder.

By means of slides and a video, the exhibition covers three recent projects: the Edinburgh City Travel Inn, the conversion of the 19th-century former Bread Street Co-operative store into The Point Hotel, and the conversion of its 1930s extension into the Point Conference Centre. In doing so, it displays Doolan's interest in coloured glass and fluorescent lighting - something for which he credits the American artist Dan Flavin.

These projects have collected awards like a boy scout collects badges, and it is easy to see why.So-called 'minimalist chic' is mixed seamlessly with the Victorian and Edwardian grandiloquence of the Co-op, while intelligent references to Mies, the 1930s, and Czech Art Nouveau all co-exist in a wash of coloured light.

There is always a dividend in returning much-loved old buildings to the public (as Doolan clearly realises), just as there is also a way of transforming them while keeping their essence alive.Glowering through the mists of an Edinburgh early morning and facing the floodlit castle, the conference centre is a welcome new accent in this most historic of cities.

These are merely the latest offerings from a practice that is now 20 years old.Beautiful and seductive as the images are, it is to be hoped that a more extensive and critically engaged show will not be long in coming - until then, it's nice to know there is a Point somewhere.

Julian Holder is coordinator of the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies

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