An array of projects throughout the islands were recognised at the Outer Hebrides Design Awards held last night (Friday 20 May) in the Woodlands Centre, Stornoway.
There were awards given in four different categories – these were Housing – Self-design, Housing – Architect or Designer, Business/Non-domestic, and Conservation.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar planning officer Helen Macdonald introduced the event and the main speaker, architect Gordon Anderson, who until recently was the president of the Highlands and Islands chapter of the RIAS, The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.
Gordon spoke about the present festival of architecture being organised by RIAS which marks its centenary this year. There are three projects in Scotland – a boat travelling on the Caledonian Canal which will carry installations across the country; Frozen Music, a photographic competition, which looks at buildings in the landscape and how the landscape affects buildings in term; and there’s a booklet looking at buildings and monuments along the way of the North 500 cycle route. He explained that as local RIAS president he had been campaigning for a more locally based architects course through the University of the Highlands and Islands.
“We are all here because we appreciate good design and it enriches our lives, and it motivates you wherever you go,” he said. “None of this is easy, and it’s a challenge here, we have to deal with things here which they don’t have to face on the mainland, we don’t have the opportunity to have flamboyant, whimsical designs here simply because they would get blown away.” There were also problems with the durability of materials and the sheer costs of the “Minch factor”, getting materials across here. Mainland awards failed to recognise these factors.
The awards were presented by the CnES design champion Councillor Gordon Murray, who was one of the panel which judged the entries. “It’s important to celebrate good design. Judging the categories was very hard. Those recognised tonight are reaching an exceptionally high standard,” he said.
The Conservation Award went to the Tarbert Hub health service project; in the Business/Non-domestic category there were commendations for Daliburgh School and Isle of Harris Distillery and the winner was Iomairt an Obain in east Tarbert; under Housing – Architect or Designer, there were commendations for the Acres on Sandwick Road and 12 Scaristavore, with the winner being 2a Croir; and in Housing – Self-design, the winner was 8a/b Borrisdale.
Mr Duncan Porteous, of Porteous Architecture and Design, explained that the 2A Croir had been designed for a couple who had been visiting Great Bernera for 20 years and ultimately planned to retire to the Islands.
Below, Councillor Gordon Murray announces the awards