Architects in the limelight as new awards scheme shows off the best of Isles design

A NEW design awards scheme for innovative and cutting edge architecture in the Highlands and Islands will have its latest local awards round in the Northern Isles next week, with Shetland architects providing the bulk of the entries for the area.

The regional awards for Shetland and Orkney, sponsored by both islands’ councils, are being held as part of the inaugural IAA (Inverness Architectural Association) awards, and a ceremony is due to take place on Saturday at the Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick, with an exhibition of the shortlisted entries available for viewing in the foyer from today for one week.

The regional award winners for the Highlands and Islands will be announced at the grand final event to be held on 14th November at the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.

There was a total of 17 entries from the Shetland and Orkney round, with seven shortlisted, three in the new buildings category, four in the new life for old buildings category. The former are: (i) Aisgarth, Stromness – Orkney Architects; (ii) Nesting School, Nesting – Shetland Islands Council; (iii) Private House at West Shore, Walls – Richard Gibson Architects. The latter are: (i) The Old Tollbooth, Lerwick – P-J-P Architects; (ii) – Extension to 16 Harbour St, Lerwick – Redman & Sutherland Architects; (iii) Byre at Heddle, Orkney – Leslie Burgher Architect; (iv) House at Muckle Busta, Sandness, Shetland – Richard Gibson Architects.

Iain Malcolmson, chairman of the Shetland Architectural Society, welcomed both the awards and the number of submissions from the Shetland architects’ group.

He said: “The Shetland Architectural Society was reformed in recent years to promote both the quality of architectural design in general and the work of architectural practices in Shetland. I hope these awards demonstrate to the public and the relevant client bodies within Shetland that local architects have the skills, commitment and the resources to produce buildings of high design quality.

“I am sure that more public projects in the future will benefit from these outward looking local practices who not only demonstrate skill in design but who have an invaluable local know­ledge of our specific problems of climate, construction and logistics.”

Scott Donald, President of the IAA, said the Shetland and Orkney round was one of the most challenging to put together: “We are particularly pleased to be bringing this awards round to the north, and tying the Northern Isles together with the rest of the Highlands and Islands as one of the most challenging places to practice as an architect anywhere in Europe.

“Due to there being two distinct island groups involved, co-ordinating the judging process has been complex to say the least – but with some exciting submissions and an enormous amount of help from great teams on both sets of islands it has been a fairly stress-free undertaking, and has been hugely assisted by the backing of Shetland and Orkney Islands Councils.

“This is an exciting new project that we hope will raise the profile of the work of smaller architect practices throughout the entire Highlands and Islands, and especially recognise the work produced in the harshest of natural contexts; like those that we find in Shetland and Orkney.”

The judges for the Northern Isles regional awards are: Shane Rodgers, secretary of the IAA (chairman of judging panel); Stanley Ross-Smith, retired architect and Shetland Archi­tectural Society member; Gwilym Gibbons, director of Shetland Arts; and Neil Firth, director of The Pier Arts Centre, Stromness.
There are six local awards events, covering the following areas: Moray, Highland Central, Shetland and Orkney, Highland North, Highland West and the Western Isles.

Sponsors of the IAA awards are Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Forestry Commission Scotland, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and RIAS (The Royal Incorporation of Architects on Scotland). More information can be found at


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