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NORD scheme named 'surprise' winner of 2013 Doolan Prize

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NORD’s conversion of a former tenement block in Glasgow into a ‘superbly attractive’ studio space has won the 2013 RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award

The £3.5 million WASPS South Block scheme in Kings Street saw off a 12-strong shortlist to win the prestigious annual award. With the RIBA’s Stirling Prize no longer offering a cheque to its victors, the Doolan Award is the only major UK architectural accolade still offering a substantial cash prize – a £25,000 jackpot.

RIAS President, Iain Connelly admitted the decision to choose the project ahead of high-profile new-build schemes would raise some eyebrows. He said: ‘Some people might be surprised that WASPS is our winner this year. However, the RIAS Andrew Doolan Award has never been simply an architectural beauty contest.

‘This building delivers to its users, to the local economy and to the creative industries in spades. The architects, with the most modest of budgets, have taken an unloved Edwardian city block and transformed it into a superbly attractive and welcoming new focus for invention, innovation and creativity, buzzing with energy. This is an extraordinary architectural achievement.’

Among those to have missed out on this year’s prize were previous winner Gareth Hoskins Architects. However the jury handed special mentions to five projects.

Special Mentions:

  • The Chapel of St Albert the Great, Edinburgh by Simpson & Brown Architects
  • Forth Valley College of Further and Higher Education (Stirling Campus) by Reiach and Hall Architects
  • The Ghost of Water Row, Govan by Edo Architecture
  • Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
  • The Thomas Telford Parliamentary Church, North Uist by Patience & Highmore

The panel of judges was chaired by Andy MacMillan with Karen Anderson, chair of Architecture and Design Scotland, Christophe Egret of Studio Egret West and Indira Van’t Klooster, editor-in-chief of Netherlands based, A10 Magazine.

Why WASPS won - the judges’ Citation:

‘This building points towards an architecture of humanity rather than show. It defines a new set of principles where the architect is, above all, the orchestrator of spatial constructs that offer opportunities for a life lived with greater social sympathy. The building is peppered with moments of generosity that delight and enchant. Whether NORD Architecture is seen as interpreters of their client’s visions or as curators of atmospheric working, this building is an architectural gift worth emulating.

This building is an architectural gift worth emulating

‘The project contributes to Glasgow City Council’s inspired regeneration policy to consolidate and enhance the Merchant City’s reputation as a leading European cultural quarter. For 20 years, the behemoth city block at King Street, Glasgow (now South Block) was occupied on an ad hoc basis by charities and largely under used. The building, originally light industrial workshops and offices, was designed to house large, open plan, factory spaces.

‘NORD has crafted and choreographed the renovation of this existing building with extraordinary rigour. With great sensitivity and the slimmest of budgets, the architects have produced a specific environment for creative industries. Normally office buildings speak of generic environments, here, within a tailored set of spaces, interaction and the promise of collaboration is easy to imagine.’

Winner of the 2013 Doolan Prize: WASPS South Block by NORD Architecture - entrance, concept sketch

Winner of the 2013 Doolan Prize: WASPS South Block by NORD Architecture - entrance, concept sketch


Previous story (AJ 12.06.13)

Revealed: the Doolan 2013 shortlist

The AJ can reveal the 12-strong shortlist vying for the largest cash prize in British architecture: the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award

The shortlist is made up of all the projects to have received RIAS Awards 2013. The dozen schemes will now go on to be considered for the £25,000 Doolan Prize which is announced in November.

The judging panel, which had to whittle down 25 longlisted schemes, included RIAS president Iain Connelly, Joyce Deans, Lori McElroy, Kathy Li of the Mackintosh School of Architecture and Roger Stephenson, representing the Royal Institute of British Architects.

More than 70 schemes were initially submitted for the awards.

Iain Connelly, president of the RIAS, commented: ‘75 submissions from throughout Scotland, ranging in cost from zero to over £30 million is a tremendous vote of confidence. It absolutely confirms that this award, in only its second year, is now the single most important recognition of architectural achievement in Scotland.’

The full list of RIAS Awards 2013

The Beacon Arts Centre by LDN Architects

The Chapel of Saint Albert the Great by Simpson & Brown Architects

Dunfermline High School by Fife Council Property Services

Forth Valley College of Further and Higher Education - Stirling Campus by Reiach and Hall Architects

Ghost of Water Row by Edo Architecture

Lenzie House by Cameron Webster Architects

4 Linsiadar by studioKAP

Mareel by Gareth Hoskins Architects

The Sir Duncan Rice Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Thomas Telford Parliamentary Church Berneray by Patience & Highmore Architects

The Turf House by Rural Design

WASPS South Block by NORD Architecture

Of the 12 projects receiving RIAS Awards, five have won RIBA Awards: The Chapel of Saint Albert the Great by Simpson & Brown Architects, Reiach and Hall Architects’ Forth Valley College of Further and Higher Education, 4 Linsiadar by studioKAP, Mareel by Gareth Hoskins Architects and the Sir Duncan Rice Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.

A separate jury will be convened to judge the Doolan Prize later this year. The winner will be announced on 7 November, at a ceremony at the Scottish Parliament.


Previously the RIAS co-ordinated RIBA Awards for Scotland. However last year, for the first time the incorporation launched its own award scheme. Entries to these awards are also eligible for RIBA Awards for Scotland.

In order to simplify and improve the awards process in Scotland, the RIAS Council, in agreement with the RIBA, established a new, ‘one-stop’, submission process. Entries submitted are now eligible to win the new RIAS Awards, RIBA Awards for Scotland and RIBA Special Awards. Winners will also be eligible for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award and the RIBA Stirling Prize.

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