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The Old Courthouse

Castle Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute


Completed August 2011


Value £4.1m


Fyne Initiatives


Scottish Government


2012 Scottish Design Awards Finalist
Affordable Housing Category

2011 GIA Design Awards
Affordable Housing Commendation

The Old Courthouse is formed from a series of ‘Category B’ listed buildings that formerly housed Argyll and Bute Council offices and the regional Sheriff Court. A combination of refurbishment, restoration, remodeling and new build has been used to provide 25 new homes for first time buyer, shared equity sale in the centre of Rothesay. The sensitive site is located within Rothesay's conservation area and adjacent to the 13th century circular castle, a scheduled monument.

The design retains the sculptural mid-nineteenth century ashlar stone facades and
rearranges the plan of the building around a new courtyard; a simple shift that provides efficient circulation and a series of calm external spaces within the busy town centre.

A new deck, formed in concrete, steel and mesh, wraps round the courtyard and, in
conjunction with a new lift shaft and stair tower, provides barrier free access and external semi-private spaces to all flats. Within the courtyard a restrained palette of materials and simple elevational treatment provides a sympathetic contrast between the old and new elements. New openings are marked with black zinc frames to tie into the new elevations and existing elements have been carefully repaired or replaced.

Materials and energy systems have been chosen to minimise the long term environmental impact of the building. As well as much of the building being retained, local, sustainable and long lasting materials and trades were used where possible. The highly insulated envelope, in conjunction with partially retained thermal mass and hi-efficiency boilers provide a comfortable internal environment and energy efficient building.

The development of the building included a periods of demolition, facade retention
archaeology, structural steel installation and involved many local skilled craftsmen
including stone masons, plasterers, slaters and carpenters - the execution of many of the details was very much a collaborative effort.

The overall achievement is down in large part to a strong and ambitious client, skilled
design team and a cooperative and capable contractor and their sub-contractors.

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