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Urban Realm names Scotland's top architectural practices

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January 16 2013

Urban Realm names Scotland's top architectural practices
Rural Design, a remote practice employing just four architects, has been named as the best architectural practice in Scotland in a survey conducted by Urban Realm, sponsored by The Rooflight Company and Highland.

The Skye based business saw off competition from much bigger outfits in the central belt to take the crown after winning plaudits for a succession of increasingly innovative housing developments, culminating in Kendram House, which are serving to turn local opinion away from the blight of kit homes which have spread across much of the Highlands.

Commenting on the win Rural’s Alan Dickson exclaimed simply: ‘wow… I’ll get my hard hat on!’’

Rural’s rise pipped a number of more familiar faces to the top spot, including Malcolm Fraser Architects, prominent campaigners for high density/high quality family housing, who finished a close second and Page\Park who settled into third on the back of a seminal year that included the likes of Bridgeton’s Olympia and Rosslyn Chapel visitor centre - as well as a raft of new project wins.

Commenting on the findings Urban Realm editor John Glenday said: “These results will surprise many, not least some of the smaller practices whose standing puts them above some of the big beasts.

“Dig a little deeper however and the impact practices like Rural are making on places like Skye is perhaps more profound than the rapid evolution our biggest cities are currently experiencing.

“Skye today is a very different place from 20, 10 or even five years ago and this is in large part down to the work of practices such as Rural and Dualchas who are transforming not just the landscape - but the attitudes to design of those who live there.

“Far from being a backwater Skye is now the place to go to see cutting-edge housing design in Scotland.”

A full summary of the 100 practices to make the grade can be viewed on our UR100 feature.


Kieran Gaffney
#1 Posted by Kieran Gaffney on 16 Jan 2013 at 14:05 PM
Surprising list! Amazingly difficult task that Urban Realm set itself and I would like to know what criteria were used to set the positions?

Well done to Rural Design who are indeed one of Scotland's most important practices and in most schools of architecture they have a huge influence, so for me that isn't biggest surprise. More surprising is how low down the list some great practices have been placed.
John Glenday
#2 Posted by John Glenday on 16 Jan 2013 at 14:41 PM
Hi Kieran, the intention wasn’t to simply list the largest practices, those with the biggest turnover or those with the strongest legacy - all exercises which have been done recently and bring little new to the table.

Rather the intention was to focus on design-led practices who have contributed something new or worthwhile to Scottish architecture over the past 12 months.

Obviously this can be a little nebulous but it’s the most meaningful means of lumping so many diverse firms together.

If we can shake-up cosy existing hierarchies a little in the process then all the better!
#3 Posted by Em on 16 Jan 2013 at 15:35 PM
So UR, were the results surprising because you picked them out of a hat?
boaby wan
#4 Posted by boaby wan on 16 Jan 2013 at 16:11 PM
who's breaking this news to dualchas?!
#5 Posted by Rob on 16 Jan 2013 at 22:40 PM
An odd list to say the least. Although some good practices get a mention I am unconvinced that the selection process was based on anything other than whim.
#6 Posted by bono on 22 Jan 2013 at 19:59 PM
I cant really take any list seriously that does not have Reiach & Hall within the top 5, especially given a number of their recent public sector projects that are a cut above almost any other work produced in that field by similar sized practices in Scotland.

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