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Sumburgh Head Lighthouse
Sumburgh Head Lighthouse,Shetland Islands

Dating from 1819 and Category ‘A’-Listed, Sumburgh Head Lighthouse was designed by the famous Scottish engineer, Robert Stevenson, and is recognised as one of the country’s finest industrial heritage buildings. The project involved the conservation, repair and adaptation of the complex of lighthouse buildings to create a first class ‘destination’ visitor attraction. The development includes a visitor centre focusing on the wildlife and unique history of the site, as well as a holiday and visitor accommodation and offices for the RSPB, all with improved access and parking. The collection of existing buildings, by their nature, turn their back on the harsh elements and huddle together as an inward looking group providing little opportunity to truly experience the place in anything but good weather. Newly-created space offers a sense of the setting by allowing the maximum view and experience of the dramatic surroundings from a warm and dry space, regardless of the weather. Drawing inspiration from existing WWII structures on and around the site, the education centre comprises of a 180° curved glass frontage to a newly formed concrete ‘bunker’, perched on the cliff edge, providing uninterrupted panoramic views from Bressay to Fair Isle.

A ground source heat pump was installed to provide heating to the entire site and an array of solar panels contributes a significant portion of its energy requirements. Funding for the project was provided by the RSPB, Historic Scotland Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Government, Wolfson Foundation and the Shetland Development Trust. The Sumburgh Head Lighthouse project has received several awards and commendations, including Shetland Environmental Award 2014 Special Mention of the Jury in the Europa Nostra Awards 2016, Commendation in the Civic Trust Awards 2015, in the Conservation category, Highly commended in the Placemaking Awards 2015 for Best Use of Heritage in Placemaking.



Shetland, Scotland


Shetland Amenity Trust








Shetland Environmental Award 2014
Civic Trust Awards 2015 Commendation
Placemaking Awards 2015
Europa Nostra Awards 2016 (Special Mention)

Project Lead

Stewart Stirling

Structural Engineers

David Narro Associates

Interpretive Designers

Bogacki Associates

Conservation Architect

Zoë Alston

Quantity Surveyors

Morham + Brotchie Partnership

Services Engineers

Irons Foulner Partnership


Frank Bradford
Ronnie Robertson

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse Details


Sumburgh Head Lighthouse location plan


East Elevation

GRAS_Sumburgh_Frank Bradford

Education centre with 180° curved glass frontage

GRAS_SumburghRRobertson (3)
GRAS_SumburghRRobertson (4)