nicoll russell studios
architects + interior designers

An Lanntair Arts Centre


Stornoway, Scotland

An Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway is architecturally, figuratively and linguistically a beacon (being the Gaelic for lantern). Architecturally the centre provides a bright, flexible and modern venue for the arts in a remote area of Scotland. It is a beacon of encouragement not only for those involved in the arts on the Western Isles, but also other remote areas of the country. It is a lasting legacy of what can be achieved, sometimes against the odds, and is an example of how the Scottish Arts Council’s Lottery Fund has touched the whole of Scotland.
It is both contextual in terms of scale and materiality, growing from the shore front into the town where it opens up its public activities to a new square formed to the side of the high street. The centre provides a platform for a restaurant at first floor level overlooking the harbour and offers a landmark in the form of an illuminated lantern, created by a corner meeting room. The lantern faces the shore and the many visitors who arrive by ferry at the terminal opposite. That is a literal beacon whose theme is repeated throughout the client’s brand identity. an Lanntair, because of its location is the most flexible of all of our arts buildings in order that a range of exhibitions, events, cinema and performances can be hosted in the one building, making it both vibrant and sustainable. The most surprising feature of this approach is the rear wall of the auditorium which can be flown into the ‘gods’, to dissolve the boundary between restaurant and audience. This feature is particularly important during cabarets and ceildhs, but it has also been used to great dramatic effect during performances.
Click to View Time-Lapse Video of the Construction

Photography : Keith Hunter