West Burn Lane St Andrews Housing

West Burn Lane St Andrews, Doolan Prize Winner 2015, Architect, New Fife Housing

West Burn Lane St Andrews Housing

RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award 2015 – Scottish Built Environment Prize

5 Nov 2015

West Burn Lane in St Andrews

Controversial St Andrews Housing Development Wins Scotland’s Top Architecture Prize

Thursday 5th November – at a ceremony last night at the National Museum of Scotland in Chamber Street, Edinburgh, Ms Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, together with Mrs Margaret Doolan Hon FRIAS (mother of the late founder of the award) presented the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award to Sutherland Hussey Harris for the West Burn Lane housing development in St Andrews. The ‘Doolan’ is the richest architectural prize in the UK, worth £25,000 and one of the most significant architecture awards in Europe.

West Burn Lane, St Andrews
photo © SHA

The judges’ citation for West Burn Lane commented:

“Expertly woven into the existing fabric of St Andrews, although uncompromisingly contemporary, the development acknowledges the historic street pattern and scale of its special context.” and

“The client and the local planning authority are well worthy of praise for creating a fine, twenty-first century, housing development, wholly appropriate to the place and the needs of owners.”

However, the decision is highly controversial. When the building previously won an RIAS Award in June this year, Howard Greenwell, Chairman of the local Community Council in St Andrews, said that

“The only award this should be shortlisted for is Carbuncle of the Year”.

West Burn Lane, St Andrews
photo © David Weir

He went on to say

“If this wins any other prize, the architecture profession will go down several notches in my opinion as they seem to be completely dismissive of, and ignorant of, conservation issues of the town”.

Graham Wynd, Chairman of St Andrews Preservation Trust said that he felt that

“The brickwork is inappropriate, lifeless and almost industrial”.

He said his main objection was that the development

“Protrudes too far out the lane”.

In response, the Secretary of RIAS, Neil Baxter, commented

“It is a pity that some people are uncomfortable with anything new. This is a superb development, well worthy of one of our most important historic towns and the top architectural award in Scotland. There are worse things than continental brick, straight lines and big windows.”

West Burn Lane, St Andrews
photo © Keith Hunter

West Burn Lane

West Burn Lane – Best Building in Scotland Award

The RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award was founded in 2002 by the architect and entrepreneur Andrew Doolan who sadly died in 2004. Andrew determined that this award would be the richest in the UK and that it should go to the best building in Scotland each year. The Award is now jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the Doolan Family.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) was founded in 1916 and is the professional body for chartered architects in Scotland. Including student members, Honorary Fellows and retirees, the Incorporation has over 4,700 members. The RIAS promotes excellence in architecture in Scotland.

West Burn Lane, St Andrews
photo © Keith Hunter

The full citation for West Burn Lane reads:
“This is a commercial residential development in a very particular location, where potential purchasers demanded spaces and finishes of an extremely high standard. This has been achieved. The (former architect) client worked closely alongside his architects at every stage.

Expertly woven into the existing fabric of St Andrews, although uncompromisingly contemporary, the development acknowledges the historic street pattern and scale of its special context. The external materials palette is limited and of extremely high quality. While the built fabric in the vicinity is predominantly structural stone, the use of a warm continental brick with narrow courses is appropriate and welcoming.

A variety of different house types, some with integral garaging, punctuate the long front elevation on West Burn Lane. Careful shifts in level and depth along both front and rear elevations of the development add interest, while emphasising the scale of the separate homes which come together in this virtuoso work of urban renewal.

Internal finishes are appropriately ‘high end’ with generous plans, taking maximum advantage of views. Both externally and internally, the detailing is meticulous and the development is full of interest. The client and the local planning authority are well worthy of praise for creating a fine, twenty-first century, housing development, wholly appropriate to the place and the needs of owners.”

West Burn Lane, St Andrews
photo © Keith Hunter

The shortlist for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award comprised this year’s RIAS Awards winners, as follows:

Arcadia Nursery, Edinburgh – Malcom Fraser Architects for The University of Edinburgh; Dalmunach Distillery, Moray – Archial Norr (Inverness Studio) (for Chivas Brothers (part of Pernod Ricard)); Highland Steading, Blairgowrie – Marcus Lee/FLACQ and cameronwebster architects (for a private client); Lamb’s House, Edinburgh – Groves-Raines Architects Ltd (for Groves-Raines Architects); Laurieston Transformational Area, Glasgow – Page\Park Architects and Elder and Cannon Architects (for New Gorbals Housing Association); Maggie’s Lanarkshire, Airdrie – Reiach and Hall Architects (for Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres); The Mill, Scottish Borders – WT Architecture (for a private client); Regency Dormer, Edinburgh – Konishi Gaffney Architects (for a private client); Rosefield, Edinburgh – A449 LTD (for Format Scotland LTD); The Shields Centre, Glasgow – Anderson Bell + Christie Architects (for hub West Scotland); Theatre Royal, Glasgow – Page \ Park Architects (for Scottish Opera); West Burn Lane, St Andrews – Sutherland Hussey Harris (for EASTACRE Investments LLP)

West Burn Lane, St Andrews : RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award winner in 2015

Sutherland Hussey Harris

RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award winner 2003
An Turas, Tiree
Design: Sutherland Hussey Architects with Jake Harvey, Glen Onwin, Donald Urquhart and Sandra Kennedy
Opening attended by e-architect Editor Adrian Welch, architect, courtesy of Charlie Sutherland, SHA.

University of St Andrews Music Centre Competiiton – 26 Oct 2015


To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.

Architecture Awards

Best Building in Scotland Award

Best Building in Scotland

RIAS Award for Architecture

RIAS Awards

RIBA Awards

Scottish House

Modern Architects

Sutherland Hussey Architects Scotland

Scottish Buildings

RIAS Lifetime Achievement Award

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West Burn Lane St Andrews Housing Award : page