DECADE: Can buildings tell our story? Reflections on cultural buildings in Scotland

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In 2015 A&DS celebrated 10 years and following a series of 10 events on 10 key topics a publication of reflections was published at the end on 2015. Throughout 2016 – the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – we will -re-publish extracts from the publication on each topic. Our third topic is cultural buildings and how Scotland’s cultural estate has been renewed over the past decade, and it looks at what lies ahead.

We live in remarkable times. The last 20 years have witnessed an unprecedented renewal of Scotland’s cultural estate, largely supported by lottery funding and delivered by some of our best architects. It just so happens that, while all this was taking place, Scotland was changing, too.

In exploring the relationship between buildings and culture, the third event in A&DS’s Decade series lit upon the nature of the stories they tell and the relationships they support. We heard that sometimes the buildings become part of the story, they influence how the story is told or heard and, increasingly, they demonstrate how our approach to cultural consumption continues to change.

In reflecting on the nature of this influence, we can start to understand what makes a particular building memorable or successful. The consensus seemed to be that the best designs are those that grasp this on their own terms, responding intelligently and creatively to the needs of those who use the buildings. These designs only happen when the relationships are right.

Above all, the event suggested that the appeal of our museums and galleries, theatres and concert venues seems to lie not just in the cultural activities they house, but also in the place they hold in people’s memories and their sense of identity as a citizen, community and nation. Together, it seems these buildings also have a bigger story to tell.

Jim MacDonald, Chief Executive, A&DS

Image: Courtesy of Keith Hunter

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