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AJ Architecture Awards 2018: Architect of the Year

Barmulloch Residents Centre 1 Andrew Lee

Congratulations to Collective Architecture, winner of Architect of the Year at the 2018 AJ Architecture Awards

Glasgow and Edinburgh-based Collective Architecture really couldn’t be better named. Not only does the 42-strong firm itself operate as a collective – a limited company owned by an employee-owned trust – but the firm has steadily established a reputation for forging high-quality and socially conscious architecture from its close collaboration with clients in Scotland and beyond.

Founded in Glasgow more than two decades ago with the goal of pursuing sustainability and creative freedom as well as greater participation on the part of clients and users in architecture, Collective has its roots in housing association projects. Today, it continues that line of work alongside its projects in other community-based sectors, such as education, culture, heritage and urban regeneration.

Barmulloch Residents Centre 4 Andrew Lee

Barmulloch Residents Centre 4 Andrew Lee

‘Working internationally with private and public clients, we consider all projects unique, regardless of size or budget, and capable of providing a source of identity for place, organisation or individual,’ the practice says.

In keeping with its stated commitment to the wider society, Collective Architecture encourages its staff to invest in research, to teach and, somewhat unusually in this often-reticent profession, to speak their minds. As a leading voice on the Scottish architecture scene, director Jude Barber leads from the front on this, campaigning for women in the profession and helping to lead a successful push for reform of the RIAS. It’s not all top-down, though, and what’s heartening is to see younger architects such as Cathy Houston, Alan Smith, Emma Fairhurst, Ewan Imrie and Gerry Hogan acting as spokespeople for their successful projects.

In many ways, Collective Architecture has been ahead of the curve and, as its raison d’être has aligned more and more with what one might expect an ideal practice of today to be, so too has its output become more consistent and the resulting awards and accolades more frequent.

What most impressed the AJ Architecture Awards judges about its winning Barmulloch Residents Centre and highly-commended museum storage facility in Paisley was what the practice has been able to achieve with meagre means. While great efficiency and long-term value have been achieved with the former, the latter has resulted in a state-of-the-art building for Renfrewshire Council Arts & Museums service on ‘an extremely modest budget’.

This year, Collective Architecture has demonstrated very successfully what amazing results are to be had with a thoroughgoing, committed and collaborative approach.

Photography by Andrew Lee

Barmulloch Residents Centre 3 1

Barmulloch Residents Centre 3 1