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What’s the story behind Inverness’ brand new (but very old) creative hub?

inside the inverness creative hub

This week, the Highland’s first ever creative hub – formerly Inverness Royal Academy – opened its doors to the public for the first time. And it seems fitting that what was once a place of learning and sharing stories is now a centre of imaginative participation.

The whole project began in 2014, when a public consultation identified the need for a creative space in the Highlands. And so, the vision of the Inverness Creative Academy was realised.

Following a four year, £6m conversion of two historically significant properties, the Inverness Creative Academy is now a city-based complex which provides working accommodation for visual and applied artists.

It also houses office space for the creative industries, social enterprise and charity sectors.

Before and after shot!

Managed by Wasps, Scotland’s national provider of creative spaces, the project has revived the redundant former Inverness Royal Academy buildings on Midmills Road in the heart of the city.

Members of the community, local businesses and Government bodies have all recognised the value such a facility will bring to the city and the region.

But what’s inside Inverness’ creative hub?

The development was conducted over two phases.

Phase one focused on converting the first of two buildings, which now houses 44 visual and applied artists and has been fully occupied since reopening towards the end of 2018.

The second and final phase, completed this month, features:

  • State-of-the-art office spce
  • Hot-desking and remote working facilities
  • Refurbished former Assembly Hall
  • Gallery spaces
  • Events spaces
  • A brand new café, operated by Café de Paulo

Who is using the creative space?

The first tenants to move into the newly completed building are StrategyStory, an organisation dedicated to supporting local, national and international businesses with strategic development, established by former BBC Senior Producer Kate Hooper and Professor Donald MacLean.

Kate said: “We’re a Highlands and Islands business with both a local and international client base.

“We needed somewhere with the ‘wow factor’ that is also easily accessible to our international guests, and still gives us easy access to the communities and businesses that we work with across the region.

“The building is phenomenal and offers us a really impressive place to host our StrategyStory training and events.”

outside the new inverness creative hub
A huge team of businesses and individuals are responsible for making this creative vision come to life

Who is to thank for the refurbishment?

Fulfilling the development was made possible thanks to the partnership between Wasps, LDN Architects and contractors Robertson Construction (for phase one) and Bancon Construction (for phase two).

Stuart MacKeller, partner from LDN Architects, said: “It has been a great privilege to have helped deliver the final and most important piece of the jigsaw by transforming the jewel in the Crown that is the former Inverness Royal Academy.

“Having witnessed first-hand the effects that Wasps’ presence in the city, through the initial phase of development, has had on the Highlands’ creative community, we are convinced that the final phase will serve to amplify what has already been achieved, whilst conserving one of Inverness’s finest architectural pieces.”

The project has been generously supported by:

  • Wasps’ Foundation Partners Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  •  National Lottery Heritage Fund
  • Garfield Weston Foundation
  • Inverness Common Good Fund
  • Creative Scotland
  • Historic Environment Scotland
  • The Highland Council
  • The Scottish Government
  • Inverness City Heritage Trust
  • Foyle Foundation
  • Local organisations and individuals

And of the individuals who have supported the development, many are former pupils of Inverness Royal Academy!

They are keen for a warm reminder of their childhood; to see the building they grew up in repurposed – still providing education, but in a range of different ways.


Occupancy at Inverness Creative Academy overall has already reached 65%, with the final phase development only recently open for viewings. Those who are interested in applying for creative office space and flexible working accommodation are invited to visit the Wasps website, or to call  01463 572753.

Viewing events are scheduled for the evening of Thursday 3 March and during the day on Friday 4 March. To register for a viewing event at Inverness Creative Academy, email lettings@waspsstudios.org.uk.

Read more on the Inverness Creative Academy on the Wasps website.

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