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AJ exclusive: Doolan prize 2011 shortlist unveiled


The AJ can exclusively reveal the 13-strong shortlist in the running for the largest cash prize contest in British architecture; this year’s RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award

Past winners of the £25,000 prize, organised by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), include Archial Architects’ Small Animal Hospital (2009) and Elder and Cannon’s Shettleston Housing Association offices (2010), both in Glasgow.

The jury at the shortlisting stage was chaired by Andrew MacMillan and included RIAS president Sholto Humphries, Sandy Robinson, principal architect at the Scottish government’s Architecture and Place division, and Jonathan Speirs of Speirs + Major Associates.

RIAS secretary and treasurer Neil Baxter said: ‘The names may not be as well known as those that recur in other major architectural awards, but there is no question that there is as much thought and ingenuity in these Scottish projects as there is in the best European architecture.

‘That most entries are modest in scale is indicative of the commissioning climate and the fact that so much is channelled through contractors, so that the emphasis on architectural quality is reduced.’

Full shortlist and judges’ citations

10 Pearce Street, Govan by Austin-Smith: Lord
‘This project breaks the mould for housing association developments. Part of the regeneration of central Govan, it sets a new standard.’

The Brochs of Coigach by SBA Architects
‘In significant contrast to the trend for kit housing, these homes blend into their setting, built into the landscape with great care.’

Centre for the Scottish War Blinded by Page\Park Architects
‘The legible plan is crucially important to the building’s users but the spaces within are far removed from the institutional norm.’

Dundee House by Reiach and Hall Architects
‘The adaptation of this large existing building is imaginative and engaging, giving the Council a very friendly public face.’

Glentress Peel Visitor Centre by Gaia Architects
‘The three buildings on this site create new public, staff, research and educational facilities which are wholly appropriate to their special rural setting.’

Grödians by Richard Gibson Architects
‘A careful yet engaging new addition to the Lerwick landscape, understated in form but highly appealing – these new homes brighten the landscape.’

Hillcrest Housing Association HQ by Nicoll Russell Studios
‘An impressive achievement for the budget, this new building is human in scale and an inspiring workplace.’

Hillhead Primary School by JM Architects
‘Combining a school with publicly accessible facilities, this building is very contemporary and very welcoming.’

The Houl by Simon Winstanley Architects
‘Demanding some of Scotland’s finest views, this unique sustainable home utilises traditional materials with great dexterity.’

Linlithgow Burgh Halls by Malcolm Fraser Architects
‘Crucially important to the town, this re-use of a key historic building brings new life and vitality – an inspiring dialogue with the building’s history.’

National Museum of Scotland by Gareth Hoskins Architects
‘The “big moves” here are deftly delivered. This adaptation is sensitive and intelligent, enhancing both the building and the objects displayed within it.’

Phoenix Flowers by 7N Architects and RankinFraser Landscape Architecture
‘This highly unusual work of architecture enlivens a previously unpleasant public space and infuses it with joy.’

University of Edinburgh Business School by LDN Architects
‘The adaptation and extension of this important existing building is delivered with great care. However the interventions have their own distinct personality.’


Rab Bennetts, co-founder of RIBA Stirling Prize 2011 shortlisted practice Bennetts Associates and winner of the 2008 Doolan prize

Rab Bennetts, 2008 Doolan prize winner

Rab Bennetts, co-founder of RIBA Stirling Prize 2011 shortlisted practice Bennetts Associates and winner of the 2008 Doolan prize

The late Andrew Doolan was a friend of mine, and we often discussed the condition of Scottish architecture over a bottle of wine in his Edinburgh hotel. In many ways, his award has captured the zeitgeist; independent of the Stirling Prize and the RIBA Awards, it obliges Scotland to stand on its own two feet, and prove that it has the talent that is so often overlooked by down south.

This year’s list is not as strong as previous years, but nonetheless it contains some crackers. Perhaps the shortlist is simply not short enough. For top awards like the Doolan, I’m inclined to consider the degree of difficulty and the economic context behind a project, as well as its underlying architectural quality, and there are several substantial projects that would be RIBA winners in any year.




Readers' comments (2)

  • Rory Olcayto's comment on the Doolan Shortlist is disingenuous. This year’s schemes have not yet been judged so I must refrain from specific comment. However, the last five years of Doolan winners have not managed to get anywhere near the Stirling Prize. Projects like the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness by Reiach and Hall and Elder and Cannon’s Shettleston Housing Association Offices are certainly up there with many Stirling shortlisted schemes and from my blurred and folksy perspective, are better than most.

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  • Kieran Gaffney

    I enjoyed Rory's polemic, most of which may well be true, but comparing the Small Animal Hospital with Zumthor's Kulumba Museum is plain unfair. Hardly anything bares comparison with Zumthor's work. The small animal hospital isn't fantastic in my opinion but it could compete with a few previous Stirling winners and when you compare it to some of the Stirling shortlist in recent years you would have to say it could have been shortlisted.

    Then take the fact that the small animal hospital is probably one of the weaker winners of the Doolan prize and there is an argument that a few Scottish builings are missing out. I've just flicked through the previous winners list and buildings like An Turas by Sutherland Hussey (a building zumthor would be proud of) and the Pier Arts Centre, Orkney by Reich and Hall should definately have been on the list.

    The Scottish Parliament is probably the only project that should have and did win the Stirling prize so the RIBA judges are not getting it totally wrong.

    Rory's other comment is the list is too long. I agree but in a way this is propoganda: promoting architects in Scotland and the 13 (eek!) practices will get nothing but good things from being on it. The RIAS doing their job?

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