nicoll russell studios
architects + interior designers

The Campaign for Better Transport’s Publication Development Around Stations





Following on from their work as the architects of the new Dundee Station, Nicoll Russell Studios have worked on a series of station focused town centre masterplans. Nicoll Russell Studios Director Willie Watt said “stations are large complex machines whose gears must mesh perfectly with those of their host town or city to create a fitting gateway, a great passenger experience by enabling all of their functionality, to encourage footfall and modal shift and be a catalyst for surrounding regeneration. Station focused town centre masterplanning is therefore a key step in fixing the link between a station and its surrounding community. After all, too many towns and cities turned their back on their stations from the 1960’s onwards. We are therefore delighted that 3 projects we have worked on are considered as exemplars by the CfBT in their review of otherwise international best practice, as set forth in their publication Development Around Stations.”



Nicoll Russell Studios win Dundee Institute of Architects Awards


Nicoll Russell Studios are delighted to announce we have won the Dundee Institute of Architects Ambassador Award, for Links Cottage, Scarinish, Isle of Tiree and received a further Commendation for Best Small Project (Domestic) Award, for 1 Grannie Clark’s Wynd, St Andrews. Nicoll Russell Studios would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to the Dundee Institute of Architects, our Clients and all others involved in these projects. "




Ongoing success at Nicoll Russell Studios


Nicoll Russell Studios are pleased to celebrate a range of success stories over the last few weeks. Nicoll Russell Studios' director Willie Watt enthused "our practice has proven to be particularly successful over the course of the last few months. Winning the Courier Business Award for Design and Innovation was a particular highlight which underlines the practice's wider design achievements but also our impact on the local economy. Much of our work is carried out across the length and breadth of the country so that it supports the growth of our business and the employment of over 30 people here in Dundee most of whom are graduates. That said, we are always proud to be based in Dundee and to carry out so much work for local people so it was thrilling for our very first project Dundee Rep to be voted into Scotland's top ten buildings from the past century."


Nicoll Russell Studios welcome new staff members


Nicoll Russell Studios are pleased to announce the employment of John Dey as a senior designer. John brings a wealth of experience to the practice in terms of major urban and station related projects. John is joined by Stephen O'Loughlin and Quirin Muhlbauer as architectural assistants and Murray Angus as an apprentice technician. Nicoll Russell Studios director noted "we are pleased to offer employment opportunities to these recent high quality graduates and also to offer an apprenticeship. The company is growing on the back of its continued success so it is particularly exciting to be able to augment our skills base in major and rail related projects via welcoming John to the practice.


Nicoll Russell Studios Business Development


Nicoll Russell Studios are pleased to announce their ongoing development as a business via their adoption of limited company status.


Nicoll Russell Studios win Design and Innovation Award



Nicoll Russell Studios are delighted to announce we have won the Design and Innovation Award at the Courier Business Awards.
Judged by business people, this award underlines the knowledge and expertise the practice offers across so many buildings and project types.
Following this great honour, we are hopeful that Dundee Rep may also win the public vote for Building of the Century in the Scotstyle Exhibition, which is a key component in the Festival of Architecture 2016


Please lend your support and vote here:


Broughty Ferry Gala Week



It is that time of year again, when throngs of children, parents and grand parents tour the streets of Broughty Ferry to take part in the town's annual window spotting competition, which was launched during gala week. Nicoll Russell Studios' partner Doug Binnie said 'the window spotting competition is something of a Ferry institution, it has been going for decades and all of the Broughty Ferry Traders who take part really try to make it enjoyable and to make the town sparkle. Broughty Ferry has a wonderful community spirit which makes it a great place to live and work in. We have been taking part in the competition for around ten years and so far have had models of scout camps, cable cars and even the Millennium Falcon hiding in our window. This year is no different, come to the Ferry, take part and enjoy the town. Can you spot what we have in our window?'


Sustainability Success


A major refurbishment project for a 1300 person office designed by Nicoll Russell Studios has been awarded the RICS SKA Silver rating upon its completion. Nicoll Russell Studios partner, Willie Watt said "sustainability is a key factor in many of our clients' projects these days and we recognise that energy efficiency and a project's wider environmental credentials will become ever more important. It is therefore heartening to see another of our projects being recognised in this manner and we hope that this success and knowledge will attract further work and further clients.".


Conservation Accreditation



Nicoll Russell Studios have recently appointed RIAS Conservation Accredited chartered architect Ryan Cathro as a new member of staff. Ryan offers Nicoll Russell wide ranging conservation experience and this now means that the practice can offer a full range of conservation related services in house. This neatly augments the practice's own experience built up over the course of delivering many sensitively designed projects within major notable listed buildings and can be used to support grant applications to Historic Scotland.


Public Sector Procurement



Nicoll Russell Studios Partner Willie Watt has recently been selected to join the RIAS Specialist Register in Public Sector Procurement. He noted that "the public sector is undergoing considerable reform in terms of how it appoints consultants and selects building contractors. It is hoped that those on the register will help to provide specialist advice to public sector organisations as to how they should best go about those activities. Nicoll Russell Studios have played such a role on a number of occasions and we hope that we can grow that service".
Willie has acted as a Technical Advisor, has selected consultants and has contributed to the selection of building contractors. In doing so he has framed the terms of PQQs (Pre Qualification Questionnaires) and ITTs (Invitations to Tender) and has contributed to their assessment so is well aware of the expectations of buying organisations and has also played the role of bid manager as a supplier. He therefore understands the issues involved from both perspectives. Willie has played a leading role in the campaign for procurement reform and has engaged extensively with the professions, the construction industry and government regarding these matters.


Willie Watt announced as the President Elect of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland


Willie Watt one of the six partners in the award winning Broughty Ferry architects' practice Nicoll Russell Studios has recently been confirmed as the President Elect of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. He is a former pupil of Arbroath High School and studied at the Robert Gordon University, before entering practice in London, Aberdeen and then Dundee. He will become the first RIAS President from the Tayside area for over thirty years. Willie will be taking up his new role alongside his ongoing work as a partner in May 2015 at the RIAS Convention which is to be held in Dundee and he will be the RIAS President during its centenary and the Scottish Government's year of innovation, architecture and design in 2016. Willie stated that "I am obviously delighted with the announcement and see it as an accolade personally, for the practice and for the architectural profession in the local area".


Sustained Local Design Success



Broughty Ferry’s high profile architecture practice, Nicoll Russell Studios, have reaped yet more success in major national awards.
Nicoll Russell Studios’ partner and spokesman, Doug Binnie, said “design skills have become more and more important to clients during the recession, because they are all too aware that their businesses must compete with many others. This has been very evident in the retail, licensed and housing sectors, where businesses recognise that design quality can give their product a real edge. We are therefore delighted when our work is given enthusiastic praise by clients and when that work is awarded major accolades. In such a climate client satisfaction and awards underline the service, skills and care which we can offer, which in turn gives our practice a competitive edge.”
“We are therefore delighted that Hillcrest Group’s headquarters on the Dundee Technology Park continues to pick up a large number of awards and that the client is such an eager champion of the building and how it works. The headquarters’ success started with a Special Mention in the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and the Scottish Government’s prestigious Doolan Award, the Dundee Institute of Architects’ Supreme Award and many others. It has been shortlisted for this year’s RIAS awards the outcome of which will be announced later this month.”
“That said, the two awards which we are most excited about have just been announced.”
“Sustainability is now a subject at the forefront of everyone’s mind whether in business or at home. We are therefore delighted that Hillcrest was awarded the Scottish Design Awards’ Sustainability Award. This is the first time that one of our buildings has been so successful in this event and to be judged to have created the most sustainable building in Scotland is wonderful. Such praise highlights the very important functional advantages of the building’s design, and it advertises the skills our staff can offer in the field of sustainability.”
“Our practice is a corporate member of the Scottish Ecological Design Association, it has one of only a handful of sustainability accredited architects, and members of our staff have taken part in specialist training such as Strathclyde University’s Passivhaus Designers course, the RIAS Energy Certification scheme and a MSc in Sustainability. We have deliberately chosen to upskill in this subject area, because we foresee that concerns regarding energy bills and global warming will potentially continue to escalate, and we believe that all clients will come to demand these skills. This award suggests that we are at the forefront of such endeavours.”
“In parallel, the headquarters has also won a British Council of Offices Scotland Award. The category had very strict judging criteria and our success recognises how well the building works as a workplace with a predominantly desk based function. Its function, performance, work environment and ultimately client satisfaction were some of the critical success factors acclaimed by the judging panel.”
Hillcrest’s Project Manager - Graeme Keillor, said “Nicoll Russell Studios were charged with the task of providing us with a contemporary building which not only took full advantage of the landscape and views, but, critically, one which fulfilled the green aspirations and operational objectives of the company and created a stimulating and comfortable working environment for our staff. When you visit our headquarters you will see that they have achieved exactly that”.
Doug Binnie continued “While it is always welcome when our work is appreciated to the extent that it can receive architectural and design awards, positive comments from a very knowledgeable client speak volumes and are a fitting tribute to everyone in the practice who made a contribution to the Hillcrest project. In what are regularly referred to as ‘challenging times’ it is a constant (architectural) challenge to have our work recognised locally in the face of appointments of practices from Edinburgh and Glasgow to carry out work in the city. Nicoll Russell Studios face the same issues as every other business in 2012 and hopefully if and when the construction sector recovers and the commercial property section picks up, projects such as the Hillcrest headquarters and the positive publicity it engenders will allow us to be well positioned to expand on our local portfolio of work!”


‘The Kelpies’ Design Competition Winner


kelpies 1kelpies 2

Nicoll Russell Studios, has beaten global competition to deliver the prestigious contract following a design competition and tender process managed by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) seeking ambitious designs for a functional but visionary visitor centre as part of the £41 million Helix Project near Falkirk.
The practice will also deliver their designs for an internal public space located within a 30m high Kelpie head - a Scottish mythical water horse - created by world-renowned sculptor, Andy Scott, in a move that will establish a dramatic, multi-sensory experience anticipated to generate significant levels of repeat visits.
The Helix Project is a transformational programme of works set to turn a 300-hectare area of under-used land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a thriving new green space, comprising:
- central park and lagoon
- cycle network and foot paths
- woodland areas
- canal hub and extension connecting Grangemouth with the Firth of Forth network
- series of public artworks
- the Kelpies - two 30m high structures in the shape of two horses heads created by the internationally renowned Andy Scott
Nicoll Russell Studios’ designs were selected by a panel of four judges for their use of light, space and strength of visual elements as well as the connection between the two separate structures, which work seamlessly together to create a distinctive experience.
Brian Moore, director of RIAS Consultancy said; “The calibre and level of response to the competition was overwhelming and myself and the other judges had a tough time trying to shortlist five let alone decide on a winner.
“Ultimately, we were looking for a practice whose designs best met the objectives of the wider project and which would deliver an architecturally outstanding but realistic proposal within the given budget.”
Andy Baxter, a partner at Nicoll Russell Studios, said: “Winning this design competition against an international field is a superb accolade and we are delighted with the outcome. It reinforces the profile of our practice, continuing a string of success across the UK and we are looking forward to seeing the designs move from the drawing board into reality.”
Sculptor Andy Scott commented on the chosen designs. He said: “It was a tough decision but for me, I could see how the internal space and visitor centre would work together. These are exciting times and I am delighted by both the prospect of seeing the designs come to life and to the contract being awarded to a Scottish company with an international reputation for excellence.”
Mike King, programme director for the Helix Project, welcomed the outcome of the competition. He said: "This is a great result and demonstrates the quality and strength of architecture and design in Scotland.
“Nicoll Russell Studios’ designs are dynamic and engaging and showed a clear understanding of the requirements of the brief, set against the backdrop of the wider project objectives. The Helix is amongst the most exciting transformation programmes under way in the UK right now and one of our key aims is to create a unique multi-visitor experience that will firmly establish the project as a ‘must see’ destination on the national and international tourism map.”
The Helix Project is being delivered by the Helix Trust in partnership with Falkirk Council, British Waterways Scotland and Central Scotland Forest Trust and has been part funded by a £25million lottery grant awarded by the Big Lottery Fund.
This project aims to establish a multi-functional outdoor space (a Living Landmark) for the local and wider Scottish community that will encourage pursuits such as walking, running, cycling and sailing and the creation of a key international visitor destination, which will significantly boost the local economy.


Passivhaus Competition Finalist



The Building Research Establishment have shortlisted Nicoll Russell Studios to design a Passivhaus at their new Innovation Park at Ravenscraig, Scotland.
The Brief for the Ravenscraig site was to design a detached residential Passivhaus which achieves Code Sustainable Homes Level 6. The threshold of construction costs: £1,500m2 excluding Photovoltaic’s. Total cost threshold £2,000m2 with locally sourced low embodied energy materials to be used where possible.


The Dundee Institute of Architects Awards 2011


Nicoll Russell Studios are short listed for at least four categories in this year’s DIA awards. These projects include their new environmentally friendly home for Hillcrest Housing Association in Dundee through to interior design projects like Clarks Bar Kitchen in North Lindsay Street, Dundee, a modest educational project in St Andrews through to the conversion of a former Council House.
Nicoll Russell Studios partner Willie Watt said “we have a lot of entries in this year’s awards and hope that we will do well across all categories. As in every year the competition will be stiff but we are keeping our fingers crossed that at least some of our projects will shine on the night.”
“The DIA awards are a great show case for the talent available in the local area, and this year many of our submitted projects are actually in the DIA Ambassador Award category which covers work by DIA members out with the DIA chapter area (the whole of Tayside and North East Fife). In this category we therefore have high hopes for our major projects like the Briggait in central Glasgow and the Howden Park Arts Centre in Livingston both of which have won a range of prestigious national awards.”
“It will no doubt come as a surprise to many that these projects have been designed in Dundee and that they have already won major awards such as the National Civic Trust’s Special Award for Scotland and the Edinburgh Architectural Association’s Best Building Award respectively. The awards will be announced at the DIA Awards Dinner on Thursday 17th November. On the night everyone in our practice will have butterflies in their stomachs because Hillcrest is also short listed for the prestigious Doolan Award which is announced on the same night in Edinburgh.”
“We are therefore hoping that Thursday is a very good night for us!”


Doolan Award Short List 2011


For the second year in a row a Nicoll Russell Studios project has been short listed for the UK’s richest architectural award, the prestigious Doolan Award which is run by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and supported by the Scottish Government. This year the practice’s recently completed Head Quarters for Hillcrest Housing Association located in Dundee’s Technology Park has been selected to be part of this high profile grouping.
Nicoll Russell Studios’ partner Doug Binnie enthused “It is a privilege to be short listed for the Doolan Award, and to be short listed two years in a row is really quite something. We have high hopes for the building, because it has created an efficient and appropriate home for Hillcrest. They seem to be extremely happy with the completed building, the quality of its working environment and by its sustainable credentials. Hillcrest wanted the completed building to be the greenest building in Tayside and I think that ambition has been achieved.”
“Just as in last years awards Nicoll Russell’s project will be going head to head with another Dundee project in the form of Dundee House, this year we want to go one better and hope that our project will win”.


Procurex Scotland


Nicoll Russell Studios’ partner Willie Watt was a speaker at the Scottish Government’s annual National Public Procurement Conference at the SECC. Willie is currently assisting the Royal Incorporation of Architects’ President’s Commission on Public Procurement and sits on the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Procurement Reform Group. He has spoken widely on the subject at various business dinners and business lunches, CPD events and by invitation to individual companies.


The Roses Awards 2011


Nicoll Russell Studios’ recently completed Briggait project in central Glasgow, continues its success. Having won two awards from the Civic Trust including their Special Award for Scotland, the project went on to win the practice’s first ever award in the Scottish Design Awards the Briggait has now won the practice’s first ever award at the Roses Design Awards in Manchester.
A Nicoll Russell Studios’ spokesman said “this is terrific news. The client, WASPS, and the many artists they house in the building’s studios all seem very happy with how the completed project has turned out. It was a complex conservation project which has saved a large complex of Grade A listed buildings in the heart of Glasgow, but it also seems to have transcended those technical requirements to create a home for the arts which has a sense of purpose and palpable buzz”.
The project was joint first in the Roses Awards’ Conservation category winning the Silver Award.