Caithness’s £20million nuclear archive, which was opened by Prince Charles, has won a prestigious national architecture prize.
The Nucleus, near Dounreay, houses nuclear records dating back to the 1940s and only opened its doors to the public last year.
And last night, it won the Royal Institute of Architects (Rias) Andrew Doolan Best Building prize in a ceremony at V&A Dundee last night.
The triangular building in Wick was designed by Reiach and Hall Architects, and is the home of records, plans and photographs from 17 nuclear facilities around the UK.
The award were judged by Professor Gordon Murray, Anna Liu and Murray Kerr.
In a statement, the judges said: “The Caithness area has perhaps endured the greatest diaspora of any area of Scotland since the clearances, and the heritage aspect of Nucleus and its potential to assist in both a cultural and economic regeneration of the region cannot be overlooked.
“As well as a national archive of the UK’s nuclear power industry, it is also the repository of the social history of Caithness. This building has many stories to tell.”
The judges also praised the architect’s ingenuity for drawing on the “landscape” and “allegorical tales” of the area, as well as the social and cultural history involved in the design.
The £21million facility was one of 12 shortlisted for the coveted 2018 Doolan Prize.
Cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, Fiona Hyslop, who presented the award alongside Margaret Doolan, said: “Good design in our built environment is a key mechanism for supporting our economic success, taking forward our environmental objectives, contributing to our cultural continuity and promoting healthy lifestyles.
“Each year, the RIAS Andrew Doolan Award shortlist highlights our architects’ best new work. The Award helps to raise our aspirations at home and boost our reputation for design quality around the world. This year’s winning project, Nucleus, shows great inventiveness in enhancing its local area, and is another terrific example of the standard of architectural creativity here in Scotland.”
A gold medal cast from internationally renowned Scottish goldsmith, James Brent Ward, along with a cheque for £25,000 was presented to Nucleus.
The centre in Wick was funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) with around 20 staff employed at the centre.