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Gray Macpherson Architects completes distillery in Hawick

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New whisky distillery and visitor centre scheme eschews tradition for picturesque greenfield sites in favour of town retrofit

Gray Macpherson Architects (GMA) was appointed by The Three Stills Company in December 2015 to design what would be the first working whisky distillery in the Scottish Borders for nearly 200 years. The brief was to create ‘a dynamic, modern and efficient distillery’ while minimising the cost of build and operation.

Rather than a more conventional greenfield site, GMA and the client chose to locate The Borders Distillery in the centre of Hawick, an economically depressed Borders mill-town. Both mill buildings and stills share a need for water and good transport links, and The Urban Electric Company Headquarters building, located on the A7 close to the River Teviot, was purchased for the project in 2015, the top-lit stone workshop buildings with wide roof spans beign judged ideal for housing stills.

Plans and section

The Borders Distillery by GMA

Source: Gray Macpherson Architects

The brief required a bonded, secure distillery with heavy goods vehicle access next door to and seamlessly integrated with a visitor centre which would attract tourists. A new sheltered entrance courtyard was formed between this centre and the distillery, along with an entrance with glass walls that maintains the feel of the original outdoor courtyard. An existing window has been elongated to provide views into the distillery at low level, while silhouetting the copper stills against the sky at high level.

A series of windows and arches provide views between the visitor centre and distillery and help visitors orient themselves, with the stills visible to passing traffic and pedestrians on the A7. Where possible, materials from the existing building have been re-used, such as steel beams from an existing hoist, which now frame openings in the walls.

TBDH 0418 14647

The Borders Distillery by GMA

Source: Keith Hunter

Project data

Start on site November 2016
Completion March 2018
Floor areas Distillery, boiler and plant room 1,401m², visitor centre 477m², total internal floor area 1,878m²
Site area 4,519m² (1.12 acres)
Form of contract BC/Q/Scot (2011 Edition)
Construction cost £3.04 million (tbc at final account).
Cost per m² Distillery and Plant Room £1,340 (tbc at final account), visitor centre £2,430 (tbc at final account)
Architect Gray Macpherson Architects
Structural engineer David Narro Associates
M&E consultant Harley Haddow
Quantity surveyor Ralph Ogg & Partners
Contractor M & J Ballantyne
CDM co-ordinator Gray Macpherson Architects
Client The Three Stills Company
Landscape consultant Damhead Design Studio
Model maker Jonathan Middleton
CAD software used AutoCAD, SketchUp, Photoshop
Building inspector Scottish Borders Council Building Standards

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