Two homes built for Scotland’s Housing Expo, held in Inverness in 2010 – a converted church and a new Inverness primary school – are just some of the buildings shortlisted for the central region in the Highlands and Islands Architecture and Design Awards.
Judging takes place today, with the regional winners being announced tomorrow.
An exhibition of all the shortlisted entries will be displayed at the Eastgate Centre in Inverness on Friday, August 31 and Saturday, September 1, when architects will be on hand to answer questions from the public.
Four new buildings have been shortlisted, with a further four in the New Life for Old Buildings category, showing the quality of the entries.
An old school, a former church and old mill building have all been converted into new homes.
Inverness Architectural Association (IAA) president Andrew Bruce said: “The number of exceptionally high-quality entries in the central region is very positive considering the challenging times.
“Despite the downturn there is a real focus on quality, both in the new and the refurbished buildings.”
The awards, organised by IAA, have taken place every two years since 2008 and aim to raise awareness of the importance of good design and architecture.
They feature a range of categories, including prizes for best new building, best restoration and best use of timber.
The shortlisted entries for the central region are:
New Building category: Milton of Leys Primary School by Highland Council; Norbu at Gorthleck by Neil Sutherland Architects; Expo House by David Somerville Architects; Expo House, Secret Garden by Rural Design.
New Life for Old Buildings category: Bogbain Mill at Contin by Rural Design; Kirk House at Garve by Dualchas; Old School Court, Drumnadrochit by David Somerville; Shewglie House, Drumnadrochit by Anta.
There are six regions covering an area from Shetland to Lochaber, from the Western Isles to Moray.
Some of the regions have already declared their winners who will go forward to the main Highlands and islands awards held in November.
The east region winners are: Rinour steading, designed by Dualchas architects, which won the award for Best New Life for Old Buildings, while Ryvoan at Boat of Garten, designed by LDN Architects of Forres, received a commendation in the same category.
The winner of the prize for Best New Building in the east region was Driftwood Cottage at Findhorn, designed by Affordable TM.
Billy Reynolds, of Reynolds of Reynolds architecture, who chaired the judging panel, said: “This was far removed from just another steading conversion.
“My immediate response when I saw the building was that it was serene and beautiful. It was so simple it was stunning.
“What was particularly interesting was the combination of textures.
“They had used a very simplified palette of white and grey but the combination of textures – from smooth tiles to rough grey finishes – made it interesting.”
A very different type of house won the New Building Award.
Driftwood cottage at Findhorn is on a very confined site in a conservation village setting.
“When we approached the cottage it didn’t look like a new build at all,” said Mr Reynolds.
“It was a small, vernacular house externally, yet when you entered, it opened out into a double-height space.
“The fisherman’s cottage/seaside theme carried right through from the garden with its driftwood sculpture to the reclaimed rope handrail.”
In the northern isles awards, a tiny pier house at Stromness and two social housing projects at Lerwick emerged as winners.
Da Vadill flat and Grodians housing, both at Lerwick, won the Best New Building and Placemaking categories respectively for Richard Gibson Architects.
Rutas House at Stromness, designed by Orkney Architects, won the New Life for Old Buildings category.
Mark Williams, of the IAA, said: “The winners clearly reflected the character and environment of their local area.
“But equally we have a lot to learn in the wider Highlands and islands from some of the design represented here.
“The vivid use of colour in the Shetland buildings – reflecting the Scandinavian heritage – makes the place come alive even on the worst of days.
“The wonderful simplicity of the Suta House in Stromness shows the way in which good design can make the most of tiny spaces.”
In the north region, the transformation of two ruined mill buildings into a family home helped scoop the top award, 34 years after the idea was originally mooted.
Trevor Black, the architect behind the award-winning High Mills conversion at Tain, said: “When I first talked to the client about the idea of converting the buildings I was still a student at university in 1977.
“It’s gone through a few different design iterations since then, but we’re all delighted with the end result.”
A proposed building shaped like a whale, designed for Ullapool ferry terminal by SBA Architects, collected the Innovation award in the same ceremony, while The Brochs of Coigach holiday houses at Achiltibuie collected a Commendation in the New Buildings category.