Isle of Gigha Houses – Fyne Homes Housing Association

Isle of Gigha, Homes, Cowal, mid Argyll and Kintyre, Architect, Buildings

Fyne Homes Housing Association : Isle of Gigha

RIAS Design Competition in the Western Isles, Scotland – Houses

New Housing for Isle of Gigha

Fyne Homes Housing Association News

Fyne Homes, the Housing Association which operates throughout Bute, Cowal, mid Argyll and Kintrye, has recently appointed architects for a new development on the Isle of Gigha. Design quality was high on the agenda for this important site and Fyne Homes engaged RIAS Consultancy from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland to manage a design competition. In doing so, Fyne Homes was responding to an initiative from the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) to encourage the use of design competitions to improve the quality of architecture in Scotland.

The Scottish Executive is also keen to see this form of design team selection used more frequently in appropriate circumstances as it has a proven track record of achieving the higher design quality that is necessary to complement important developments. Four architectural practices were invited to participate in the design competition through a process of written submissions and presentations of design ideas. The latter involved Community consultation as well as a competition jury.

Three practices were shortlisted to make presentations in the village hall at Ardminish, the main settlement on Gigha, on the evening of 22nd March. This was attended by a round 35 local residents, out of a total population on the island of 122. Members of the community listened to presentations from each of the architects, and had an opportunity to question them on their ideas, after which they were invited to complete a questionnaire to express their views. The three practices then made further presentations to the jury on the morning of 23rd March. The Jury comprised:

Brian Moore, Director of RIAS Consultancy
George Wren, past president of Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland
Peter McDonald, Operations Director, Fyne Homes
Alan Hobbett, Development Manager, Isle of Gigha Trust
Don Williams, Fyne Homes Committee Member
Willie McSporran, Chairman, Isle of Gigha Trust

The quality of all Isle of Gigha – Design Competition submissions was considered to be extremely high, both by the community and by the members of the jury. The three finalists were:

Anderson Bell Christie, Glasgow
Crerar & Partners, Oban
Dualchas, Isle of Skye

Issues covered in the presentations, and of particular interest and importance to Fyne Homes and the Community of Gigha, included:

· High quality design, inside and out, using attractive materials
· Use of local materials
· Energy efficiency
· Good access for all, including people with disabilities
· Attractive public spaces
· Gaining maximum benefit from the stunning views

All three practices addressed these issues and others in great detail with a range of innovative and practical ideas. After much deliberation and consideration of the community’s views, the jury decided that the practice of Crerar & Partners would be selected for this commission. The competition was run in accordance with guidance issued by the RIAS in respect of design competitions and Fyne Homes is delighted with the outcome of the process. Unsuccessful practices were offered payment in recognition of the time and effort they had put in to their submissions.

Peter McDonald, Operations Director of Fyne Homes, commented “we were delighted with the process and with the outcome of this design competition which has already created the positive relationship between client and design team that is essential to a successful project.”

Brian Moore, Director of RIAS Consultancy, added “we were very pleased to be invited to manage this design competition in such an attractive location. The sites chosen for development are very visible to visitors to Gigha, and they offer unique opportunities for innovative design that will do credit to Gigha and provide residents with outstanding views. Fyne Homes was clearly committed to quality in its widest sense in the appointment of a design team and we are sure that this will continue throughout the whole procurement process. It is important for the process to be fair both to the client and to the competing consultants, and we believe that an appropriate balance was achieved in this instance. The involvement of the community made the whole process more interesting and it is unlikely that a 25% turnout could be achieved in any other location.”

Isle of Gigha Housing information from Fyne Homes Housing Association


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Other Crerar & Partners Architects projects in Scotland include the Novotel Edinburgh and the Ibis Hotel, central Edinburgh

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image © Keith Hunter
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