Days Out: Ten places to experience architecture in Scotland (Part 1)

Add to Scrapbook

Add a place of architectural and design interest to your ‘to visit’ list this summer!From an former swimming baths through to a recently upgraded library and gallery, a theatre experience and a lookout tower in the largest expanse of blanked bog in Europe. The following list, in no particular order, gathers the first five places in our list of ten that offer the visitors a fantastic experience, as well as a view of recent architecture, across Scotland.

Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries

When Scots emigre turned American industrialist Andrew Carnegie hatched plans for funding a network of public libraries, he started with his home town of Dunfermline. The original library dating from 1883 reopened earlier this year with a striking contemporary extension by Edinburgh’s Richard Murphy Architects adding a museum and gallery, reading room, cafe and shop. Sensitively blending traditional and contemporary styles, it has already been named Building of the Year in the Edinburgh Architectural Association Awards. Situated in the midst of Dunfermline’s heritage quarter, it looks set to become a focal point in attracting more visitors to the Fife town which was once Scotland’s ancient capital.
Where: Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries, 1-7 Abbot St, Dunfermline, KY12 7NW

The Engine Shed, Stirling

Once part of a top secret military depot, the Engine Shed opened earlier this year as Scotland’s first Buildings Conservation Centre. Here, Historic Environment Scotland invite visitors to learn more about their work and experience conservation techniques hands on, carving with soap, for example, or bricklaying, moulding and casting with marzipan and chocolate. Built around the turn of the last century, and part of a Ministry of Defence facility used in both world wars, the shed was conserved using some of the techniques it will now demonstrate, retaining as much of the original fabric and character as possible.

Where: The Engine Shed, Forthside Way, Stirling, FK8 2BY.

Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s first public swimming baths opened in Infirmary Street in 1885, but was forced to close in the early 1990s. The building lay derelict until it was purchased by philanthropists Alastair and Elizabeth Salvesen as the new home for Dovecot Tapestry Studios. Dovecot was founded in 1912 by the Marquis of Bute to create tapestries for his family seat at Mount Stuart and has a strong reputation for working with top artists, from Alan Davie to Alison Watt. Malcolm Fraser Architects led the conversion of the building into the studio, gallery space, offices and apartments, while retaining many of its original features. Currently (until March 2018) the Built in Tapestry exhibition on the Tapestry Studio Viewing Balcony provides deeper insight to Dovecot tapestries created for bold architectural projects. In all instances the tapestry and architecture complement one another in innovation, impact and style. (Image courtesy of the Dovecot Studios, photo by Stuart Armitt)

WHERE: Dovecot Studios, 10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LT. 

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The longest running theatre in Scotland, the Theatre Royal opened in 1867. After the auditorium was destroyed in a fire in 1879, it was rebuilt in French Renaissance style and is now Grade A listed. Its current owners, Scottish Opera, embarked on a £15million refurbishment programme with Glasgow architects Page\Page, with the new foyer and extension opening just before Christmas 2014. Using the site of the former Cafe Royal, the architects created a drum-shaped structure to house a sweeping custom-built staircase reaching all levels, offering improved visitor facilities and views over the city. (Image (detail) courtesy of Andrew Lee)

WHERE:  Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA


Forsinard Lookout Tower, Sutherland

The Forsinard peatlands is the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe. One of Scotland’s most striking and unusual landscapes, it is a valuable nesting site for rare birds such as golden plovers and greenshanks. The Forsinard Lookout Tower near the Dubh Lochan bogs pools, designed by Edinburgh architects Icosis, is a striking contemporary structure which provides a new perspective on the Flow Country. The structure, which won a RIAS award in 2016, employs Scottish timber and Caithness stone, and was built using a method similar to oilrig construction, sinking piles onto a solid base so as to disturb the fragile landscape as little as possible. At night, the upper platform is perfect for star-gazing.

WHERE: Forsinard Lookout Tower, Sutherland 

Image by:  Maciej Winiarczyk,


What do you think? What did we miss out? Add your voice @ArcDesSco

Scroll to top