Posted on November 18, 2021

Being shortlisted for two AJ Architecture Award was fantastic news however, finding out last night that both Meadowbank Masterplan and the Larick Centre won their respective categories at a UK wide award ceremony, was an outstanding result.  A true credit to the client, communities, and design teams involved in both projects.

Meadowbank, a £100 million green neighbourhood on a challenging brownfield site was praised by the jury for its ‘true placemaking’.  The judges were also impressed by the whole-team’s collaboration on the 596-home ‘low-car, low-carbon’ community, the way the scheme will knit into the existing urban fabric, and how public consultation and debate had properly and positively informed the proposals. They said: ‘At no point has the team been on automatic pilot. There has been a real clarity and depth of thinking.’

For the Larick Centre in Tayport, the judges were especially impressed by the ’thoughtfulness in how the brief was developed with the community, and how there was a clear and expressive unity between inside and out. Unlike some schemes in the category, the judges felt the architecture was a highly considered response to community and public need, both now and in future.

The Larick Centre was designed to be adaptable through moveable walls and flexible services, the new centre proved its versatility during the Covid pandemic by being used as a local NHS vaccination hub. Its sustainability credentials include the retention of a 4,000m2 concrete ground slab from the former industrial shed, keeping 820 tonnes of concrete in situ. The building also employs a range of materials, such as screw-fixed metal corrugated panels, that can be easily disassembled and re-used, emphasising a prevailing ethos of long life, loose fit.

A big well done to everyone who has contributed to these projcts, we hope these awards highlight the enormous value well considered design will  bring to the future of both Meadowbank and Tayport communities.

Iron Line Shortlisting

Posted on November 15, 2021

Copeland Borough Council and the Millom Town Deal Board have announced that Collective Architecture’s Interdisciplinary design team has been shortlisted alongside 4 other teams, to the second and final stage of this exciting competition.

The competition was launched in September to find the right design team with whom a sympathetic yet stimulating intervention could be created within an area of extraordinary natural beauty, close to the Cumbrian Lake District. The judges were looking for an approach which sensitively developed the beautiful coastal Iron Line at Millom into a recreational attraction that unites ecology, heritage and culture.

Collective Architecture’s team approach is inspired by the words of local poet Norman Nicholson, celebrating the beautiful natural context of Millom, Cumbria. As an expert botanist, Nicholson asserted that nature might repair itself better than mankind could. Promoting the preservation of the post-industrial remnants of Millom, the salvation of mines, factories and pitheads, allows for future generations to appreciate the achievements and struggles of this former industrial area of England.

With this in mind, our proposals seek to promote preservation and appreciation, over intervention. The natural world and industrial legacies are an important focal point for the people of Millom, Cumbria, and for those visiting the area. Reflecting on the industrial past, the ambition will be to connect Millom and Haverigg to the wider area; bringing heritage, ecology and tourism together and benefitting the local economy in the process.

We are pleased to be leading the team through the next stage and look forward to developing our ideas further.

Bell Street Stables wins a Herald Property Award.

Posted on October 01, 2021

Last night Bell Street Stables won 'Best Restoration and Conversion' at the Herald Property Awards. 

A big congratulations to everyone involved in this project, including our client Wheatley Group and contractor, CCG Scotland.

As a kind gesture for allowing the Herald Property Studio team access to filming during the judging process, they kindly gift us this video montage of their visit.

We’ve never looked back!

Posted on August 09, 2021

News article 'We’ve never looked back since becoming owned by employees'

Scotsman, Business Section, 8th August 2021.

Our very first Passiv-Warehouse completes!

Posted on August 03, 2021

On Friday morning, several of our colleagues had a breakfast visit to Civic House, at Cowcaddens, Glasgow, designed by Emily Ong and Rupert Daly.

Client, Rob Morrison of TakTal,  gave the group a tour of the building, with it’s newly completed external elevations, which were looking incredibly crisp (credit to the contractor!)

Civic House is an old printworks, which date from the 1930’s have been retrofitted to near Passivhaus standard, with new insulated roof with photovoltaic array, super insulated external walls and new render works, new triple glazed Alclad windows throughout, and a building wide mechanical heat recovery ventilation system.

The building is a working example of how post industrial buildings can be repurposed and made to operate economically, in a world where existing buildings need to be considered as important as new buildings  The reuse and refurbishment of existing buildings ensures energy loss is minimised and whole life carbon is vastly reduced. 

We hope this building sets a new standard for post industrial retrofits, amid the escalating climate crisis.

Pineapple Award for Granton Waterfront

Posted on July 17, 2021

We are pleased to learn today that Granton Waterfront for City Of Edinburgh Council, won a Pineapple Award.

The Pineapple Awards are the only UK award that celebrate the best in making place, where  people thrive, where people want to live, work, play, shop or learn. The Pineapples are unique in that shortlisted projects are presented to the judges in front of a live audience, showcasing urban development work  taking place in communities across the UK. You can watch the full Granton Waterfront presentation here.

The judges were struck by an incredibly ambitious project that takes a genuine and comprehensive approach to inclusion and social equity, from its considered approach to education and lifelong learning, to the way it gives surrounding communities free access to the sea. The project bring back into use something that is already there, a beautiful natural asset, that is also a climate resilient integrated solution. The judges described this project as powerful and environmentally and socially sustainable.

Jude Barber, Director at Collective Architecture said 'This project is testiment to so many people's hard work and ambition, most notable our client, City of Edinburgh Council, who had that orginal vision for where the city wanted to go and lead the way in terms of low carbon and climate resilience'.

A very big well done to everyone involved in this trail blazing project including; Studio for New Realieites, AECOM, LUC, ARUP, Gardiner & Theobald and Luxigon.

Mairi Laverty wins 'Young Architect of the Year'

Posted on July 16, 2021

Super news for Mairi Laverty, who won 'Young Architect of the Year' at the Scottish Design Awards 2021.

Mairi won 'Young Architect of the Year 'due her ability to balance exceptional design with the skills required to  bring clients, communities, consultants and contractors on the journey to delivering high quality projects. She impresses everyone who has the
pleasure to work alongside her and Mairi’s unwavering design ability is infused with rigour, empathy, determination and good humour.

Mairi has applied her skills to complex, socially inclusive buildings and places across Scotland, including the Larick Centre, Tayport (SDA Commendation); the  Water Row Development in Govan, Glasgow; Bilbohall Masterplan in Elgin;  Sighthill Housing, Glasgow and plans for the Camphill Community/Estates, Aberdeen. Mairi continues to employ ambitious design aspiration and
professionalism throughout her work.

Mairi said, 'I’m delighted and humbled to be selected for this award. It’s an honour to receive this amongst the high design talent that was demonstrated across each category, and being shortlisted alongside Jamie Anderson and seeing the fantastic work that he has produced. I would like to thank all those who I have collaborated with over the past few years who have played a big part in helping to shape my career so far. 

Promoting Employee Wellbeing on Employee Ownership Day

Posted on June 25, 2021

Article by Neal Whitaker, Project Architect at Collective Architecture.

Collective Architecture has, for many years, placed staff wellbeing at the core of its ethos and has maintained a degree of flexibility around the way we work to facilitate this. What the pandemic has done is reframe our understanding of the extent to which this flexibility can be engaged as a tool to improve work/life balance, to the benefit of both staff and the practice.

Throughout the five years I have been with Collective, I have benefitted from this flexibility on many occasions. This has been particularly important to me as an architect who only began training at the age of 30 and as a result have been building the early years of my career – including the stresses of professional exams – whilst starting a family and being stretched thin in my efforts to balance both compelling needs.

I joined the practice in 2016 and immediately started work, alongside an experienced colleague, on a refurb project with a tight programme and challenging procurement structure. Having been a dreamy design-focused student, this was a shock to my system and I became consumed by the stress of it, leading to the decision to approach the practice with the idea of reducing my working week to four days, in search of better life balance. My partner was living on the Isle of Arran and this change allowed me to finish slightly earlier on Thursdays and travel to the island, returning on Monday mornings.

This arrangement worked well, and in 2017, we had our first child. My partner came to Glasgow for maternity leave, but our son had severe reflux and couldn’t sleep for more than forty minutes at a time for many months, leaving all of us completely exhausted. Collective, via my Team Lead, were supportive throughout, arranging for ad hoc compassionate leave during which I was able to take some time at home to give my partner a break. This really did save us at a very difficult time for us.

Once our son was ten months old, I took a share of my partner’s maternity leave and dropped down to a three-day week so that she could go back to part time work on Arran. During this period, I was spending more time on the island than on the mainland and we explored whether it may be possible to refine my office hours to enable us to base ourselves fully on the island as a family, with me working partly from home and travelling to the Glasgow office a couple of times a week. From the current perspective, this type of arrangement perhaps does not appear radical, but in the pre-pandemic paradigm it was a little too far ahead of the curve, so once my parental leave was finished, I went back to a four-day week and picked up my previous pattern – travelling to and from the island on a Thursday and a Monday. This still left a full day each week just for me and my son, when I could be a fully engaged dad – an extremely precious thing which may not have been possible with less flexible employers.

We decided to move to the mainland – which involved my partner leaving her dream job and life (another challenging time navigated with the help of compassionate leave) – and were establishing our new lives when the pandemic hit. The approach taken by the practice throughout this period has been exemplary and, backed by the flexibility and trust provided by Collective, we have been able to carefully navigate our way through the changing landscape of the Covid era so far.

As a family, we were fortunate in the first phase of the pandemic. For us, as for many others, childcare was a major headache. My partner, an essential NHS worker, couldn’t work from home, and we were fortunate that our childminder offered to continue caring for our son, so I was able to transition to home working quite smoothly. In some ways this arrangement was actually more satisfying than the normal routine – I could pick him up at five and be home again with him five minutes later, cutting an hour and a half of commuting from my day.

Towards the end of last year, though, our son was growing out of the childminder’s setting and was ready for nursery. The nursery we felt best suited to him only opens until 2.30 each afternoon, but we were able to choose it because Collective was open to me spreading my 30 hours across five days, working two full days and three short days, freeing me up to collect him three times each week. Seeing him thrive in an environment he loves fills me with gratitude.

We were, again, fortunate that during the most recent lockdown the nursery was able to open for children of NHS staff – but they couldn’t cover all the hours we needed. Collective took advantage of the flexible furlough, allowing me to drop from 30 to 25 hours a week to cover childcare for a few weeks until restrictions eased and the nursery opened fully.

All in all, we have been very lucky. Still, I have found that working from home, even with the major worries taken care of, brings with it some undeniable downsides, particularly as time wears on. Loss of human contact and even the commute, with the opportunity it affords to be amongst others and provide a buffer between home and work, brings a sense of isolation that it is important to counteract where possible. Collective recognised this early on, and a key principle, maintained throughout, has been that working hours are flexible. As long as a core number of hours are during ‘normal’ office hours, staff have been left to make their own decisions about when and how to work. This has meant that on sunny days I have been able to go out for a run or even a bike ride, safe in the knowledge I can catch up once our son is in bed. Contact between staff has been sustained through online coffee breaks and workalongs, communal yoga classes and so on – these have all kept us going.

This brings me up to date – with a second pregnancy for my partner and the various times I’ve gone along to scans and appointments during the working day with the support of Collective. The practice is busy refitting the new office, and discussions are ongoing over how we will use it and structure the balance between home and office to preserve the gains of the past year.

Collective has a culture which really does support staff to live the best life we can. It never feels inappropriate to approach Team leads to discuss personal issues which are impacting work, and they are skilled at balancing the resourcing needs of projects with the wellbeing of colleagues. There is an acknowledgement that work is important, but so is the rest of our lives. I don’t take this for granted, and this motivates me to bring my best to the work that I do, something which I am sure is also the case for all of my colleagues.

To read more Employee Ownership Association Stories, visit the EOA Website.

SuDS & Scottish Design Award Nominations

Posted on June 03, 2021

A couple of exciting nominations this week for two fantastic, hard working architects from our practice, Fiona Welch and Mairi Laverty.

Fiona has been designing green-blue infrastructure projects, with various agencies and partnerships since 2011, and has continuously sought to implement SuDS beyond strategy and into delivery, despite procurement hurdles. Her dedication, work and enthusiasm is starting to bear fruit with projects including Hamiltonhill Regeneration, North Glasgow. The SuDS Champion Award recognises the people who inspire, inform and influence others to get on board, share good practice, and deliver high quality SuDS.

Mairi has been nominated for Scottish Design Awards, Young Architect of the Year, which celebrates excellence over a body of independent work. She has unwavering design ability, infused with rigour, empathy, determination and good humour. Mairi has applied her skills to complex, socially inclusive buildings and places across Scotland, including the Larick Centre, Tayport; the Water Row Development in Govan, Glasgow; Bilbohall Masterplan in Elgin; Sighthill Housing, Glasgow and plans for the Camphill Community/Estates, Aberdeen.

A big well done for all the hard work!


Posted on May 01, 2021

Celebrating 24 years since our formation and 14 years of successful employeee ownership.

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