In the wake of the announcement that Page\ Park's Maggie's Centre in Inverness is the winner of the Andrew Doolan Award, RIAS President Douglas Read has said that 'the showpiece buildings are always of a high standard' but that 'it's the everyday buildings we would like to see raised to a high standard'.
The Scottish buildings that have dominated recent issues of the AJ embrace self-conscious ordinariness (Reiach and Hall's Arts Faculty at St Andrew's University), well-mannered contextualism (Malcolm Fraser's Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh), industrial elegance (gm+ad's JKS Workshops at Clydebank) and low-cost grit (NORD's East End Sawmills in Glasgow). If there is a recurring theme, it is a concern with creating a sense of place; with 'healing' a fractured site. True to form, this week's building study, The Bridge by Gareth Hoskins (see pages 27-39), fills an unpromising gap site in an unprepossessing patch of Glasgow.
These buildings share a sensibility that is diametrically opposed to the attentiongrabbing extravagance of amboyant civic buildings or agship corporate HQs. If they are showpiece buildings at all, they have become so as a result of the extraordinary talent and care which has been lavished on their execution, rather than the elasticity of the budget or the status of the client.
Whatever problems have beset Scottish architecture, you have to applaud the energy, robustness and vision that encourage the country's leading practitioners to engage with the most unresolved fragments of the urban landscape. If anything is likely to stem the tide of mediocre buildings, it is the proliferation of projects that prove that there is no excuse for the humble to be humdrum. From an outsider's perspective, Scottish architecture is not only thriving, but demonstrating an extraordinary ability to elevate the everyday.