RIBA Awards, Scotland

Award-Winning Design Of A Centre Fit For Heroes

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Scottish War blinded, Linburn
Scottish War blinded, Linburn

Page \ Park Architects have won a RIBA award for their response to a charity’s request for an ‘iconic building’.

Their design for the Centre for Scottish War blinded, Linburn, recently opened by the Duke of Gloucester, is an innovative timber-clad construction, inspired by a hand-carved Chinese celestial dragon which was housed in the display room of the current facility. This inspiration manifests itself in the building’s undulating footprint and sweeping zinc standing seam roof.Scottish War blinded, Linburn

“We were delighted to have won the RIBA award – which was our second this year. The other was for our design of the McManus Galleries project in Dundee” said Mr Jamie Hamilton of Page \ Park Architects. He added that one of the most challenging aspects of the project was achieving the correct geometry for the building’s undulating steel skeleton.Scottish War blinded, Linburn

The 800msq single storey building, constructed by Brown Construction of Dundee, replaces the charity’s existing 1950’s facility which occupies an adjacent site.

The building is structured around a steel frame, with external elevations in timber cladding, incorporating aluminum/wood composite framed windows. External works included the construction of a greenhouse and landscaping to create a sensory garden.Scottish War blinded, Linburn

The new facility includes a workshop, art space, training areas, a gym, therapy spaces and administrative offices, as well as a remembrance room. The building offers a comfortable and sociable environment, whilst also providing rehabilitation and life skills assistance for servicemen and women suffering from visual impairments. With the facility now taking in veterans of more recent conflicts, the mixture of activities reflects the changing demographic of users the organisation now supports.

The building harbours a strong focus on internal flow, with a mainly open plan arrangement along one circulation spine. The organisation of the building aims to be as simple as possible so that the users can easily form a mental picture of the building. In addition, bold ‘gestures’ are made at doorways and changes of direction to further assist navigation

RIBA describes the scheme as: “This elegant building, sitting beautifully in its West Lothian landscape, demonstrates the benefits of enlightened architectural patronage by a distinguished charitable trust. The sinuous plan form – taking its inspiration from a hand carved Chinese celestial dragon – has produced a building which is comprehensible for its users, all of whom suffer different levels of visual impairment. The sweeping zinc covered roofscape and limited external materials generate a sophisticated and elegant building, free of institutional connotations.Scottish War blinded, Linburn

Rooms are accessed off a single, broad spine, connecting the social, work and rehabilitation spaces of the building, with access to each subtly differentiated by variations in the internal colour palette.”

Scottish War Blinded set out to procure a building of exceptional architectural quality to reflect the image of the organisation in the strongest possible light. The charity specified that the building should meet the needs of the service users vacating the existing facility and the forecast needs of the many more who will join them in the new centre. It also determined that the building should be light and modern with a services theme and take cognisance of service users’ visual impairment, including specific design features relating to that.

Scottish War Blinded held the official opening of the new centre on 1 June.  HRH the Duke of Gloucester carried out the ceremonials and there was an RAF fly past to mark the occasion. Scottish War Blinded members and staff have been impressed by the support they have received from many quarters.

Scottish War Blinded was founded in Edinburgh in 1915 with the object of caring for Scotland’s sailors, soldiers and airmen and women who were blinded in the service of their country. In addition to those blinded in conflict, assistance is given to any person who has been a member of the Armed Forces and has suffered a visual impairment.

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