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Nucleus Archive Facility Scoops UK's Richest Architecture Prize At V&A Dundee Award Ceremony

7th November 2018

Photograph of Nucleus Archive Facility Scoops UK's Richest Architecture Prize At V&A Dundee Award Ceremony

Nucleus, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Caithness Archive, Wick by Reiach & Hall Architects wins the 2018 RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award for 2018.

Twelve projects were shortlisted for the coveted 2018 Doolan Prize, all worthy winners of RIAS Awards for 2018 (presented in June 2018).

Nucleus is an impressive industrial building which contributes to its context in this remote and challenging location in the far north of Scotland.

The award was presented at a ceremony at the newly opened V&A Dundee, Scotland's first ever dedicated design museum, on Tuesday 6th November by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Ms Fiona Hyslop MSP alongside Mrs Margaret Doolan Hon FRIAS. The award is generously supported by the late Andrew Doolan's mother and family and by the Scottish Government.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, 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."

The judges for this year's award were RIAS Past President Prof. Gordon Murray (Partner, Ryder Architecture), this year’s Stephen Lawrence Prize winner Anna Liu (Director, Tonkin Liu Architects) and, past Stephen Lawrence Prize winner, Murray Kerr (Director, Denizen Works. The judges commented:

"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.

In an effort to give some depth of context to the rather anonymous site for the building on the edge of an industrial estate, the architects have drawn an allegorical tale on the landscape and big skies of the floe country and the magnificent horizontal light on which is founded the disposition of elements of the building- the pools of water and the triangular forms. However, for this jury, the rootedness of such a building firmly in the social and cultural history was a much more significant allegory. The building is a physical manifestation of the metaphysical, capturing both the identity and the nature of the space of its location.

At a basic level the building is a sophisticated storage facility ordered along a logical system of servant and served spaces- the archive bunkers. However, it is with the addition of the support facilities and public archive in the triangulated forms, the planes of which shift in the vertical and the horizontal, and in the ‘lochans’ - the pools which signify each progressive level of security in the building, that the building comes alive. The long, triangulated prow creates a unique public space with a grand sense of arrival - this is indeed a public building. The immediate enclosure gives a sense of place where there was no context before."

The building was selected from a strong shortlist of twelve projects which represented a comprehensive range of building types.

1. Barmulloch Residents Centre, Glasgow

Collective Architecture for Barmulloch Community Development Company

2. Bath Street Collective Custom Build, Edinburgh

John Kinsley Architects for Bath Street Collective Custom Build Ltd

3. The Black Shed, Isle of Skye

Mary Arnold-Forster Architect for a private client

4. Boroughmuir High School, Edinburgh

Allan Murray Architects Ltd for Children & Families Department, City of Edinburgh Council

5. Clydebank Leisure Centre, West Dunbartonshire

Kennedy FitzGerald Architects LLP for West Dunbartonshire Council

6. The Engine Shed, Stirling

HES with Reiach and Hall Architects

7. Humpty House, Angus

Ben Scrimgeour Building Workshop for Mr & Mrs Ben and Rosemary Scrimgeour

8. Leith Fort, Edinburgh

Collective Architecture & Malcolm Fraser Architects for Port of Leith Housing Association / City of Edinburgh Council

9. Lochside House, West Highlands

Haysom Ward Miller Architects for a Private Client

10. McEwan Hall, Edinburgh

LDN Architects for The University of Edinburgh

11. Nucleus, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Caithness Archive, Wick

Reiach and Hall Architects for The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

12. St Cecilia's Hall Concert Room and Music Museum, Edinburgh

PagePark Architects for The University of Edinburgh

RIAS web site -

See all the buildings at


Nucleus, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Caithness Archive - Reiach and Hall Architects Broad Daylight Ltd


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