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Briefing and estates

For more information on our estates optimisation consultancy services contact Euan Macdonald

Architects look at space differently. We go to the grassroots to discover the nuances of existing facilities, question day-to-day operations and analyse future needs. The knowledge we glean enables estates managers to make enhanced and informed decisions around their short, medium and long-term capital investment plans.

We follow a tried and tested three step approach.

1: Discover is where we develop a comprehensive understanding of the estate and play back the findings in a straightforward, diagrammatic way.

2: Define is where we help estate managers and users to define their vision and needs for the future estate. We can help you understand the space required by your people – how you might achieve net zero - and if you need to build something new or shrink your estate.

3: Develop is where we refine and hone feasibility studies to support your strategic thinking. We work collaboratively with you to develop delivery strategies and funding models.

We can provide a Sustainability Vision Overlay and Net Zero Carbon pathway services to align with the estate vision where required. Our style uses evidence and enlightening graphics to simplify even the most dizzyingly complex of challenges, to an easily grasped concept. We help you to understand how your building assets can evolve to deliver your organisation’s aspirations.

Briefing and estates optimisation in action

Glasgow School of Art A leading centre for studio based creative education and research

Edinburgh College of Art The opportunity to unite the entire creative community onto a single site

National Galleries of Scotland A new collections facility for the National Galleries

Glasgow School of Art

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is a leading centre for studio based creative education and research with a vision to invest in its future estate through inclusive design, quality place-making and climate emergency mitigation.

The School has multiple campus locations in the city and beyond; a total of 10 owned and eight leased buildings. The main cluster of buildings is in Garnethill, within the city’s central area conservation zone. The Hub, which houses The School of SimVis, can be found in the media quarter and The Whisky Bond, where a proportion of the GSA’s archives and collections are kept is in Speirs Locks, North Glasgow. There are also facilities in Forres, in the Scottish Highlands.

We were part of a full multi-disciplinary strategic team charged with producing the overall estates strategy in line with the School’s ambitions. The process involved extensive reviews of the estate comprising desktop research of existing information, building visits, quantitative spatial analysis, and qualitative building analysis to fully understand the context, its opportunities, and constraints. Once we had a thorough grasp of the School’s growth patterns, we were able to begin identifying opportunities for the future of the estate and the Mackintosh building. We also developed a comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy; undertaking a series of workshops and townhall sessions with nine individual identified work strands within the School. 

To meet the GSA’s Net Zero Strategy, Harley Haddow created a ‘digital twin model’ of the buildings owned by the GSA using digital dynamic simulation software to allow comparison with measured utility consumption, allowing the appraisal of options and setting the measures required to meet the outlined Net Zero targets.  

Three separate development options were produced for assessment by the School against project and strategy objectives.

Following the merger of Edinburgh College of Art with the University of Edinburgh in 2011 the institution has existed across a fragmented estate and been unable to fully integrate its diverse range of programmes. The acquisition of the Category A listed Fire Station provides the opportunity to unite the entire creative community onto a single site. 

We have devised a masterplan to redevelop Edinburgh College of Art’s historic Lauriston Campus. Our proposals consolidate all subjects, students, and staff onto a single campus through strategic intervention and addition of new academic space, returning historic buildings to active use and improving connections across the campus, to the university quarter and to the wider city. The development complements the University’s vision for an innovation corridor, stretching along Lauriston Place, via the Edinburgh Future’s Institute, to George Square.

Following thorough analysis of the existing estate, we identified where strategic interventions would unlock improved connections, adjacencies, operation, and growth of the campus. Our approach considers the campus as an urban village, redefining the public realm and landscaping, opening, and activating the ground floor and key spaces to refresh the identity of the campus and create a vibrant creative quarter to serve not only the University Community but residents of the whole city.

The National Galleries of Scotland estate comprises five Category A listed buildings across three sites in Edinburgh – the Scottish National Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy on the Mound, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen St and the Modern 1 and Modern 2 galleries that comprise the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in the West End of the city. Only about 5% of the Collection is on display in these galleries at any one time, the rest being held in various repositories on the outskirts of Edinburgh. 

Our study fed into the business case for The Art Works, a new collections facility for the National Galleries currently under development.

The National Galleries of Scotland has a vision of delivering ‘Art for Scotland, Inspiration for the World’, with three core goals of increased participation, impact, and achievement. These goals formed the basis on which we reviewed and assessed future development options. 

Our work involved the detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of each site and the existing space within each building. Using our in-house briefing tool, we were able to categorise each type of space in every building and analyse them comparatively. We also consulted with six specific user groups within the organisation to identify the priorities for change. 

We developed and reviewed a series of options for potential interventions that would allow NGS to generate the greatest value from each building, operationally and commercially, in the context of space that would be freed up with the opening of the National Museums Collection Centre. We also looked at what spaces were missing yet needed in the respective buildings. Chosen options were worked up into more developed designs and an estates strategy developed and costed.