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Competition: Gaelic cultural centre, South Uist

Dalabrog image by google earth
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Gaelic arts and heritage organisation Ceolas Uibhist is looking for an architect to design a £7.1 million cultural centre in South Uist, Outer Hebrides

The winning architect-led design team will deliver the 1,200m² scheme, which aims to create a new ‘centre of excellence’ for Gaelic language, music and dance on an undulating site in remote Dalabrog (pictured), one of the last majority Gaelic-speaking communities in Scotland.

Planned to open in 2018, the Cnoc Soilleir facility – meaning Hill of Bright Light – will feature a 200-capacity performance venue and exhibition space. Teaching facilities for music courses provided by Lews Castle College will also be delivered.

The competition brief says: ‘Our vision is a place where Gàidhlig [Gaelic] is the dominant language and where students and visitors learn from and engage with the wider Gàidhlig-speaking community.

‘The building will also serve as a community and visitor hub. The vision is to establish a place that promotes and celebrates Uist’s Gàidhlig cultural and heritage assets for the benefit of residents, students and visitors alike.’

Gaelic is a Celtic language native to Scotland and currently spoken by around 57,000 people, mostly in the Outer Hebrides. Ceolas Uibhist was set up in 1996 to promote the language, and runs a range of community-led activities including a summer school, winter festival and song conference.

Cnoc Soilleir will occupy an undeveloped 2ha site in the centre of Dalabrog, which is home to around 300 people and near to the port of Lochboisdale.

The moorland plot is immediately north of the crofting community’s church and manse, with an approximate 3m variation in ground level from one side to the other.

The facility will feature a performance venue, exhibition space, kitchen, common room, classrooms, library, practice rooms, recording studios, dance studio and bar.

Edinburgh-based John Renshaw Architects completed a feasibility study for the project in 2015 and a cost review last summer. Planning in principle is due to be approved this month.

Funding constraints mean that phase one of the project – covering detailed design and initial groundworks – must start before May and the entire scheme must finish by 2018.

The deadline for applications – which may be completed in English or Scottish Gaelic – is 5pm, 6 March.

How to apply

View the contract notice for more information



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