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Reiach and Hall may go back to drawing board to appease residents

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Reiach and Hall Architects' competition-winning community centre for Collieston, Aberdeenshire could be forced back to the drawing board to appease anxious residents.

Last month the practice was named preferred architect by Collieston and Slains Community Trust (CASCT) from a competition shortlist including Sarah Hare Architects, Studio Kap, Graeme Massie Architects and Sutherland Hussey Architects (Scottish big names fight it out on five-strong shortlist).

However, in a statement announcing the result, CASCT confirmed the victorious firm would now have to work closely with the community to design a building that was sensitive to the coastal landscape 'even if this means going back to a blank sheet of paper'.

According to CASCT, the final design will comprise a social hall for up to 200 residents, self-catering respite-care units and professional meeting space. It may also include an exhibition space, a café and a retail outlet.

CASCT chair and director Stephen Rainey said there was 'some' local concern surrounding the scale and effect of Reiach and Hall's winning concept.

But Rainey said he was confident local fears could be assuaged by staging a series of consultations involving Reiach and Hall, CASCT and the local community. These begin on 14 April with an architectural workshop where views and comments may be worked into revised designs, he said.

Rainey said: 'As architectural competitions go this is unusual. The community had a choice in what was chosen and Reiach and Hall is the architectural practice we will work with.

'Some people have genuine concerns but these may not be informed concerns. These are perceptions and these may not be informed perceptions.

He added: 'The ongoing consultations will help persuade people that this is a community that deserves an iconic building.'

CASCT hopes to have a community hall in place by 2009, but says it may have to adapt the timescale as the consultation process rumbles on. Reiach and Hall was unavailable for comment.

by Clive Walker

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