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Architect sought for £3.8m Inverness creative hub

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The Wasps Trust is looking for an architect to transform two Grade B-listed buildings in Inverness into a £3.8 million creative hub

The winning lead consultant and design team will convert the former Midmills Campus of Inverness College on Stephen Street (pictured) into a new base for artists and creative businesses.

The project will create 39 artist studios and 50 desk spaces for creative businesses inside the landmark complex, which was the original home of the Inverness Royal Academy but has been vacant since 2015.

According to the brief: ‘The facility will provide studios for artists, creative workshops, offices for cultural organisations and social enterprises, studios for creative industries (including graphic design, media companies, web development, architecture and digital design), a café, exhibition space, performance workshop, maker space and cinema.

‘The space will also support a series of needs identified by locally based organisations in the Highlands including Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the University of the Highlands & Islands. These include graduate support initiatives including low-cost shared studios, incubator space, business support and mentoring, music rehearsal and community workshops as well as network space for supported creative industries.’

Wasps, a non-profit social enterprise headquartered in Glasgow, has invested £24 million in creating studio spaces for artists and creative businesses across 19 buildings in Scotland.

The latest commission comes three years after NORD’s £3.5 million South Block scheme for Wasps was the surprise winner of the 2013 RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award.

Last year Wasps also appointed Collective Architecture for the £3 million second phase of a project to transform Glasgow’s former Briggait fish market into an arts centre.

The academy building, designed in the Beaux Arts style by local architect Ross and Macbeth, opened in 1895 and was expanded in 1913. Both the main building and the extension will be transformed into studio spaces, while other structures on the site will be cleared to make way for new sheltered and affordable housing.

The project is divided into two phases, with the first covering external urgent and essential repairs and the second involving additional repairs, alterations, refurbishment and fit-out. It is scheduled to complete in 2019.

Bidders must have at least £2 million worth of professional indemnity insurance cover and £5 million of public liability insurance. Applications will be assessed 60 per cent on quality and 40 per cent on price.

The deadline for applications is noon, 19 January.

How to apply

View the contract notice for more information

Contact details

Catharine Kidd
The Wasps Trust
The Briggait
141 Bridgegate
G1 5HZ

Tel: +44 1415535890
Email: cath@waspsstudios.org.uk


Q&A with Wasps senior executive director Audrey Carlin

  • What is Wasps’ vision for transforming the mid-mills campus into a new creative hub?

The Midmills Creative Hub is a really exciting opportunity for us to provide something quite transformational in Inverness and the wider Highland region, and has borne out of a strategic direction for Wasps to deliver creative spaces in Scotland’s smaller cities. Our vision for the Midmills Creative Hub is to bring the redundant listed school buildings into a vibrant, sustainable, long term use providing a mix of high quality office and studio spaces for artists, creative individuals and businesses at a range of rentals to suit the market. We also aim to work in partnership with others to deliver public spaces, including a café, performance workshop and digital maker space, and business mentoring and incubation to support the growth of creative industries in Inverness and the Highlands region. Wasps have been looking for suitable buildings to enable delivery of its Small Cities Strategy for developing creative spaces in Inverness, Perth and Stirling. There is no comparable facility supporting and providing for creative industries (which includes Architect and Design practices), and to nurture and retain creative talent in the Highlands. Demand surveys that Wasps have been carrying out over the years and to inform the business model for the Creative Hub have demonstrated the demand amongst artists and creative businesses for the facility.

  • How will the venue compare to previous Wasps projects?

This project is comparable to the hugely successful and popular South Block in Glasgow’s merchant City which was opened by Wasps in 2011. Designed by NORD Architecture this has a mix of creative uses and spaces within a former textile warehouse. Our tenants include large digital and architectural practices to visual and applied artists and cultural social enterprises. In 2013 South Block won the Scottish Building of the Year, Andrew Doolan Prize, the RIAS 2014 Awards in the Commercial category, and Conservation and Climate Change category as well as the Scottish Interior Design Award.

  • What sort of architects are you hoping to work with?

We are waiting to see what the response to the ITT is. We are looking for practices that can provide a creative response to the brief, understands our vision for the building, but is able to fit this in to our funding environment.

  • Which other opportunities are on the horizon and how will architects be procured?

Wasps is also working in partnership with Perth and Kinross Council to deliver a Creative Hub in a former school building in Perth.


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