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RIBA House of the Year 2021 13.11.2021
EAA Awards 2021 commendation for Treen 28.10.2021
Kyle House receives RIAS Award 2021 07.09.2021
Conservation Architect
We are seeking Conservation Architect 13.07.2021
In conversation with The Modern House 10.03.2021
Lundies House in Dezeen 01.08.2020
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City Library
Cultural / Olomouc, Czechia / 2020

The design of the new library has the ambition to become a local sub-center located between the inner and outer bypass of the city of Olomouc, in the Nové Sady housing estate. At first glance, the introverted building opens into the housing estate through a newly designed outdoor space, which carries with it a claim to clarify and recultivate the surrounding environment so that it is possible to create a dignified pre-space for newly emerging public institution.

The library building looks modest on the outside, but it attracts with its elegant timber façade of the 1st floor extension, which suggests the uniqueness of the internal function. It offers generous spaces and accommodating gestures to enrich social life, culture, education, and concentration. The ambition of the design was not to create an architectural icon, but to focus on the harmonious connection of building with its environment and especially the general logic and functionality of the entire space. 

Caisteal Bharraich
Cultural / Sutherland, Scotland / 2019

Caisteal Bharraich is a dramatic and historically significant scheduled monument that sits high above the Kyle of Tongue in Sutherland. The exact date of the rectangular towers construction remains uncertain, but there is significant evidence suggesting the earliest possible construction date was around the first half of the 15th century. Later records show that surprisingly few alterations have been made since this time. However, during the winter of 2015 large sections of the monument suffered severe weather damage and GRAS was commissioned to stabilise and consolidate the ancient monument.

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The North Ship
Cultural / Hull, England / 2017

The RIBA and Hull 2017 jointly invited GRAS to submit an expression of interest to create an ambitious and bold temporary outdoor structure in Hull city centre. The built structure was launch in August 2017. The proposal welcomed ideas that reflect the following four principles: collaboration, purpose, responding to context and materiality.

The North Ship proposal is a celebration of Hull’s collective cultural identity and its significant history as a major trading post, fishing and whaling port and industrial city. The project reflects on these histories at an important juncture, while projecting a vision for a city embracing cultural rejuvenation in a post-industrial age.

The proposal was developed through collaboration with ~in the fields, an artist collective from the west coast of Scotland. ~ in the fields’ work emphasizes natural phenomena and condenses poetic moments into inventions of autonomous, cocooned systems. Their visual art practice draws on archival material, environmental topics and ephemeral artefacts, such as lost forms of cinema. Their installations are responsive, of modular appearance and often powered by solar energy.

Collect at Saatchi Gallery
Cultural / London, England / 2017

Following the success of the 2016 showcase at London Design Fair, GRAS was re-commissioned by Craft Scotland and Emergents to design and build a stand for use at various shows throughout 2017-2019, including the Collect event at London’s Saatchi Gallery. GRAS developed a modular and reusable structure that provided a platform for each designer to showcase their own work, while also presenting the collective as a cohesive whole. The display was conceived to be highly engaging and elegant in its own right, reflecting the showcases focus on craftsmanship and design, while being subservient to the work being presented.

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Gayfield Creative Spaces
Cultural / Edinburgh, Scotland / 2017

Gayfield Creative Spaces was an arts hub based in and around a former tyre depot by Gayfield Square in Edinburgh that provided a venue for exciting artist, designer, maker and gallery initiatives from 2013 to 2017. GRAS was tasked with redeveloping the tyre depot to establish a range of venues, workshops, galleries, studios and flexible events spaces that could support high-quality, cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Prior to alteration, the building was composed of a series of beautiful but disconnected and dysfunctional post-industrial spaces with remarkably varied characters. The challenge was to subtly unite these spaces and allow them to work together, creating a new, versatile home for the arts that was far greater than the sum of its parts.

Through the design process, the proposed interventions were simplified and reduced to their absolute necessity in a constant distillation and re-evaluation of the brief. The result was the most modest of interventions required to unlock the building, providing new facilities and circulation routes using a consistent and binding architectural language.

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Hill House Visitor Centre
Cultural / Helensburgh, Scotland / 2017

The aim of this project was to interrogate the notion of a building as a product rather than a process. By allowing visitors the chance to see Hill House as they have never seen it before, the Hill House Visitor Centre would have demanded an alternative perspective on the nature of permanence, the role of conservation and the future of Hill House. In collaboration with Invisible College / NVA, our proposal was to invite the public to engage in the story of a building as it emerges through its period of construction, use, and ultimate disassembly. Set alongside the planned conservation works on Hill House, this would have proven an engaging, thought-provoking and progressive critique on the future of Mackintosh’s buildings, and indeed all existing buildings.

Positioned along the back wall of the garden, the Hill House Visitor Centre provides a visible and accessible gateway to the grounds from both the traditional gated entrance and the carpark to the rear. From atop the garden wall, the visitor would experience a side of Hill House not usually acknowledged, while also enjoying a view of the River Clyde beyond the rooftops of Helensburgh. In contrast to the sculptural mass of Hill House, the Visitor Centre comprised a skeletal structure of scaffolding that sits lightly on the ground, stepping over the wall and bridging the carpark and garden; woodland and house.

Low cost, readily available and easy to assemble: traditionally, scaffolding is the parasite that clings to a building, In this instance, however, the scaffolding itself is the host, with the voids between the poles providing the spaces into which building boxes are nested. A definitively temporary architecture, this building is modular, demountable and adaptable. Its fragmented form allows the existing trees to remain standing in the voids of the structure, and encourages new growth to interact with the building over the temporary period of its existence.

A – Iceland Trekking Cabin
Cultural / Iceland / 2017

A stands for a basic symbol of shelter.
A is a new landmark of Icelandic mountains offering a refuge to hikers.
A provides shelter for up to ten people simultaneously along with self-generated hot water and electricity.
A embraces the traditional design of A-frame huts recognizable in Iceland and forms its own language.
A is a perfect shape for withstanding the harsh climate of Iceland, resisting wind and snow.
A is an adaptable architectural framework, not a single design.

Craft Scotland Emergents 2017
Cultural / London, England / 2017

The design took the form of a ‘skeletal’ assemblage. Individual frames were customised for the artist and created a boundary encapsulating display pieces. The frames were joined to create a continuous structure which lightly floats within the room, allowing viewers to move in and out of the space – becoming part of the exhibition itself. Varying dimensions and heights allowed for  for the framework to be re-usable and recyclable in the future elsewhere.

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Fringe Festival
Cultural / Edinburgh, Scotland / 2017

This proposal seeks to create a highly functional, flexible and adaptable series of structures which reflect the creative energy and diversity of the Fringe Street Events, while providing the conditions to maximise the engagement and enjoyment of visitors. These structures will be designed and built with a consistently bold visual style, connecting all components from entrance gate to market stall to stage.

The physical configuration and appearance of each backdrop, stage or entrance gate can be simply configured to suit the ever-changing performers’ requirements by manually rotating, sliding or moving components. The alteration of the structure is at first functional: to provide a backdrop which best suits a specific performance; to provide some shelter from the rain; or to communicate a new message to reflect the day’s activities. When extrapolated over the length of the street, these alterations will have playful and surprising results.

Introducing an element of augmented reality to the structures, the experience gains another layer where the visitors can navigate through the events and find more information about the ongoing events.
Through constant engagement by performers, visitors and even changes in the weather, the whole structure is in a continuing state of flux: never the same twice; interchangeable hour by hour, day by day and year by year. Feeding off one another, the structures, performers and people become a hypnotic theatrical performance. As well as their energetic and lively existence, the structures also provide places of calm and escape where one can retreat from the crowds for example via an elevated platform, to observe and watch as the entertainment continues below.

Lerwick Town Hall
Cultural / Lerwick, Shetland / 2017

The category A-listed Town Hall in Lerwick dates from 1883 and is the most important civic building in Shetland. GRAS were commissioned to carry out an ambitious £1.2 million restoration and repair package incorporating the conservation and protection of a nationally significant collection of secular stained glass windows, designed and created by several of the leading makers of the time. The stained glass windows in the building had suffered for many years due to their harsh salt-laden environment; and although efforts had been made over the years to conserve them by applying external flexible polycarbonate sheeting, it had not been enough to significantly protect the historic glass.

The traditional isothermal glazing method was adopted and a prototype designed and built which addressed the very specific technical issues caused by the previous restoration methods and the particular physical environment. Following extensive research and testing, GRAS with Cannon MacInnes developed and installed a newly-patented non-ferrous isothermal glazing system which isolates the glass from the external environment while providing full adjustability and accessibility for maintenance. Further to this, the most deteriorated masonry around the windows openings has been removed and replaced with a salt-resistant stone with high cohesive strength which will result in good longevity and resilience to the extreme maritime external environment. These technical improvements, combined with the creation of sensitive interpretation have opened up the building to the public, increased the number of visitors to the area and greatly enhanced the long-term prospects for the building.

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The Quaich Project
Cultural / Edinburgh, Scotland / 2017

GRAS worked with US-based design practice wHY and engineering firm Arup on the winning proposal to revitalise a nationally-important site in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens. As one of the city’s most famous landmark locations, there was a great responsibility to reimagine this historic place through a design that is both innovative and respectful to the people, wildlife, landscape and heritage of the Scottish capital.

The competition-winning proposal comprises an organic landscape-focused scheme that respects the historic setting but also animates the Gardens through the introduction of a new undulating promenade together with improved access from nearby Princes Street and sculptural seating with dynamic open views.

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Loch Leven Heritage Trail
Cultural / Kinross, Scotland / 2017

Pause then enter beneath turf canopy, emerge and encounter a panorama at the top of the hill. Turn back on yourself and take shelter for a moment on a bench held by the land and roofed by its fauna.

A contemporary cave, it’s mouth framing the view of Loch Leven and the landscape surrounding.

A woven hollow on the hill’s prow providing time to pause think and observe; still, windless shelter. The calm eye of refuge and outlook in an otherwise exposed landscape.

GRAS were selected to submit proposals for a new lookout and rest stop on the Loch Leven Heritage Trail in Fife. The viewpoint is designed to encourage visitors travelling in either direction to pause to rest, appreciate their surroundings and contemplate their journey. When approached from either direction, it first becomes visible as a dry stone wall edge to the path. As the banks either side of the path rise up, the ground gently falls leading the visitor down into a broch like entrance wide enough for cyclists and pedestrians to pass. Timbers laid across the path heighten the senses and advise cyclists to slow or dismount on approach. As the path descends into an enclosed passage, the distant view is obscured and the eye is drawn to the textures of the stone walls and wall-growing fauna either side and the timber framed earth roof overhead. A 180 degree turn in the passage brings the visitor to a cavernous, sheltered space with a large single aperture cut from the undulating roof to frame the distant view with a ribbon of timber. Here visitors can sit on a long bench beneath a cantilevered roof and admire the panoramic view or interpret their surroundings with the pictograms and text etched into the timber ribbon running the full perimeter of the aperture. The space is large enough to hold a small group but small enough to feel intimate with one or two people. The nature of the two paths meeting in a sheltered space encourages visitors to engage with one another.

The viewpoint is located on a natural slope, which is dug away to form the enclosing space. Drystone retaining walls form the vertical edges while a timber frame supports the wild, grassy landscape which runs over the top of the enclosure. On one side the ground plane rises to form a covered space while on the other side it drops, to reveal the view and bring the small scale flora and fauna to a height where they can be easily viewed alongside the accompanying interpretative information.

The form is principally derived by the fold in the path and the natural fall in the landscape, but is inspired by ancient Scottish forms of construction such as Holms and Brochs and later blackhouses and crofts. Its organic, sinuous form references natural forms of construction such as cocoons and the weaver birds nest to create an organic enclosure, appropriate for peaceful contemplation.

Custom Lane
Cultural / Edinburgh, Scotland / 2017

Conceived by GRAS, Custom Lane is a collaborative platform created to identify, support and celebrate emerging world-class design in Scotland. Occupying part of a 19th-century Custom House in the heart of Leith, Custom Lane aims to provide Scotland’s most engaging, enriching and enjoyable work environment for designers and design-led makers. Working closely with the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, which manages the site on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council, GRAS has overseen the transformation of the previously inaccessible building into a vibrant creative hub.

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Scotland: Craft & Design
Cultural / London, England / 2016

GRAS created the central stand for the inaugural Scotland: Craft & Design pavilion, which celebrated the best in Scottish contemporary craft at London Design Fair 2016. Working to a brief set by our clients, Craft Scotland and community interest group Emergents, we produced a monolithic display element that showcased the work of 22 emerging and established designers and makers from across Scotland. The custom-made stand immediately attracted the attention of visitors to the exhibition, with its physical mass and integrated lighting drawing people towards the centre of the space and encouraging them to explore the various works on show.

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Craigmillar Community Arts Centre
Cultural / Edinburgh, Scotland / 2016

Craigmillar Community Arts Centre is a category B-Listed former church in the West of Edinburgh. With the help of Big Lottery funding, the charity’s aim was to re-engage with the local community, providing an arts and community hub for the area. GRAS worked closely with CCA to focus on creating a more practical building, with a significant architectural intervention, including a new mezzanine, upgraded kitchen and WC facilities and improved accessibility throughout.

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse
Cultural / Shetland, Scotland / 2016

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 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.

 

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Scatness Visitor Centre
Cultural / Shetland, Scotland / 2014

Despite having only limited facilities at present, the Scatness archaeological site has proven to be a popular visitor attraction, with over 8000 people visiting the site each year. The need to consolidate and protect the site has become increasingly recognised as has the need to provide permanent interpretive and other facilities for the growing number of visitors.

This proposal creates a unique heritage site and first-class visitor attraction in which the archaeology is fully enclosed and protected and where visitors can view history being unearthed and discovered.

Scottish National Memorial for Organ Donors
Cultural / Edinburgh, Scotland / 2013
Shortlisted scheme for a new Scottish national donor memorial in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. The proposal used woven rebar (concrete reinforcement bar) in a method often used for willow fencing. The memorial rises out of the ground to form a contemplative sheltered seating area. The walls of woven rebar would be gilded at the point at which they meet, thus marking this profound act of giving they commemorate. An oak bench within is supported by the curving rebar. The lower walls extend out to the wider landscape to form shallow terraces. Details of planting and ground surfaces draw on the gardens’ extensive knowledge, forming elements sympathetic to the memorial and to the wider context of the gardens. The scheme was developed following its short-listing and presented to a working group of relatives of donors and donor recipients.
Galleria Temporanea
Cultural / Venice, Italy / 2012

The Galleria Temporanea, or Transient Gallery, formed part of Scotland’s contribution to the International Architecture Exhibition during the Venice Biennale in 2012. The mobile pop-up gallery explored the significance of everyday functional objects that create or enhance a sense of collective identity across the communities that use them. It presented these often forgotten or overlooked artefacts in a gallery-like environment to celebrate their history and encourage debate on the relevance of such shared functional objects in past, present and future communities.

Often operating without official consents, the gallery was erected in minutes and remained in situ for approximately one hour in each location, before being dismantled as quickly as it arrived. The project was made possible through extensive experimentation and collaboration with artist Tim Taylor, along with joiners, stone masons and fabricators whose expertise contributed significantly to the outcome. The project was delivered on a very low budget and was built, transported and erected by GRAS in various locations in Venice, before returning to Scotland for use during events in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In Venice, the Galleria Temporanea was installed around the disused wells that dot the city, temporarily isolating, framing and objectifying them as important works of architecture. The design responded to the Biennale’s theme of ‘Common Ground’ which invited architects to reflect on “continuity, context and memory” in the discipline of architecture. The gallery consisted of several interlocking panels featuring an outer surface made from rough, hand-carved polystyrene. The heat-sealed polystyrene evoked the aged surfaces of the stone wells and the walls were topped with a smooth upper course into which the project’s title was carved in a capitalised Roman-style font.

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St Magnus Church
Cultural / Shetland, Scotland / 2011

Arguably the finest ecclesiastical building in Shetland, the category B listed St Magnus Church was designed by Alexander Ellis of Aberdeen and dates from 1863-64, with the addition of the bell tower undertaken in 1899 by the Inverness architect Alexander Ross. The Church is broadly in the early pointed gothic style, with detailing that shows the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, particularly through the treatment of the tower. Internally, the building displays many fine features, including an open timber roof with scissor trusses over the nave and a magnificent collection of stained glass by the famous architect and designer, Sir Ninian Comper.

After successfully applying for and securing substantial grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland, GRAS were appointed to put in place and see through to completion a comprehensive package of internal and external fabric repairs, including major structural works to the tower, complete re-roofing and extensive remedial works to stone masonry, stained glass and internal finishes.

SIX Design Awards
Cultural / Glasgow, Scotland / 2007

GRAS were invited to design the SIX awards and exhibition which features the best work from the future stars of Scottish architecture. It showcases young talent and offers a rare opportunity to see work from all six of Scotland’s schools of architecture together. The SIX 07 exhibition aims to give a sense of importance and permanence to the student work through the use of digital media and by referencing to protective archiving systems. Where traditionally student work is presented on gallery walls, each school’s work is presented centrally within six polished storage units. Images of the work are projected in an interactive format on top of the units with hard ‘archived’ copies of the work stored in six sliding drawers.

The pieces are intended to be highly interactive and their positioning in the centre of the gallery encourages interaction and discussion between audience members. Each box can be dismantled into a series of components suitable for transport to the six schools of architecture throughout Scotland. The exhibition was commended in the Best Exhibition category at the Scottish Design Awards in 2008.
Photography by Andri Haflidason.

Liberton Bank House
Cultural / Edinburgh, Scotland / 2007

The restoration of a derelict listed 18th century cottage adjacent to Cameron Toll shopping mall & car park. Once a home to Conan Doyle in childhood, the house was gifted to the Cockburn Conservation Trust who engaged the services of GRAS to faithfully restore the fabric and convert its use for Dunedin School, a charity specialising in teaching educationally fragile pupils. Works were partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the City of Edinburgh Council and funds raised by Dunedin School.

Kirk of Saint Nicholas
Cultural / Aberdeen, Scotland / 2004 –

Category A-listed Kirk of St Nicholas in Aberdeen is one of the most important and oldest ecclesiastical buildings in Scotland. The Open Space Trust, a charity, seeks to develop a visionary scheme to re-integrate the former East Kirk with the heart of the city and provide a place to be used by the city’s people. GRAS have worked with the OST over a number of years to prepare for a comprehensive scheme to reconfigure the interior of the historic church for a multitude of new occupants and uses. Before any works could begin, an extensive study and internal archaeological investigation was carried out. This provided an incredible insight into the building’s history and revealed many burials that have been painstakingly excavated.

Following on from these works, an initial phase of external fabric repairs and restoration works was undertaken to stabilise the shell of the building, involving the replacement of inadequate roof slating with a new lead sheet finish, extensive dry rot repairs, comprehensive repair and replacement of all stained and leaded glass panels, associated tracery stonework and repair to the granite stonework, pointing and cast-iron work. GRAS are currently working on creation of an internal crypt in which the excavated remains are to be reinterred, replacement and relocation of heating plant to the Kirk’s steeple, and both funding applications and discussion with Aberdeen City Council and others with regard to the major scheme to refurbish and reconfigure the whole of the East Kirk in the future.

St Andrews in The Square
Cultural / Glasgow, Scotland / 2000

St Andrew’s Church in the East end of Glasgow is of immense architectural significance, having been designed in 1739 by the architect Allan Dreghorn and built by the master mason Mungo Naismith. It is considered one of the best classical revival churches in Britain and is A-listed. Glasgow Building Preservation Trust’s main aim was to restore the church to its former glory but in order to make it sustainable, additional facilities were needed. As the church sits on an island site at the centre of St. Andrews Square, no additional structure could be added. Thus the bold decision was taken to excavate under the existing building to achieve the space required.

The Church was opened to the public on St Andrew’s Day, 30th of November 2000, as a centre for traditional Scottish music, song and dance. St Andrew’s Church was awarded the Dynamic Place Award in 2001, Europa Nostra Diploma in 2001, Glasgow Institute of Architects President’s Choice Design Award in 2001, Civic Trust Award in 2002. and RICS award in 2003.

Traverse Theatre
Cultural / Edinburgh, Scotland / 1992

The world famous Traverse Theatre was established in Edinburgh in 1963. On moving to the Grassmarket in 1969, GRAS created bespoke flexible seating system. On moving to Saltire Court in 1992 a version of this system was used in the studio theatre whereas a totally flexible new system was invented for the larger 350 seater theatre. The Traverse is acknowledged as the well-spring of innovative drama in Scotland. Its award winning bar is a destination point in the heart of Edinburgh.

11 Cities
Cultural / Netherlands / 1990

In 1990 Nicholas Groves-Raines and Alan Murray were chosen alongside artist Alan Johnston to represent Scotland in an exhibition of 11 Nordic Countries in the Province of Friesland in Holland.

‘Twenty eight individuals from 11 Cities, seventeen architects and eleven artists, eleven teams from 11 Nations, realizing eleven autonomous pavilions. Eleven answers to one complex and dichotomous question: Develop and present an environment in which a personal, architecture creates the optimal ambiance for an equally personal art – or – develop a process of collaboration in which the two disciplines find expression in a fully integrated work of art. ‘

Landmark Stirling
Cultural / Stirling, Scotland / 1971

The listed three-storey 18th century Castle Hotel in Stirling was perched on the cliff to the side of the castle’s esplanade. In 1971 it was converted to a Landmark interpretation centre for Scottish history. A radically modern approach was called for to signify the dilapidated hotel’s reinvention. State of the art materials were used to create the new foyer, ramped exhibition space and panoramic auditorium. Three new replacement ‘capsule’ bay windows allow panoramic views over the surrounding landscape.