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January 16, 2013

Celebrating good design

It’s clear that well-designed places to live and work improve our quality of life. Architects would argue good design doesn’t have to cost the earth, so why does it remain the exception rather than the rule?  This applies as much, if not more so, to community buildings and the public realm.  Scottish Civic Trust aims to shine a light on outstanding examples of good design with its My Place Awards.  Seems Glasgow has cornered the market in recent years.






In 2013 a Scottish Civic Trust My Place Award will recognise a building, landscape or public realm project that has had a positive impact in a local neighbourhood and has delivered tangible benefits to that community.  Also, a Scottish Civic Trust My Place Civic Champion Award will be presented to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of their local heritage. Any community based group can nominate a project or person.  These can include:  local civic trusts affiliated to the Scottish Civic Trust, community councils, history societies, housing associations, arts groups, development trusts and community action groups.  Entries must be recently completed projects. These can be new build, restoration, conservation, redevelopment, landscape or public realm projects.   

To celebrate the launch of the 2013 awards, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said:

“High quality buildings and places can make a real difference to the lives of communities. No one appreciates this more than those who benefit directly from excellent facilities and so I think it is very fitting that projects are nominated for these Awards by the communities that they serve.

“Good design is a powerful tool for the creation of successful places which support economic, social and environmental aspirations as well as reinforcing the cultural identity of Scotland’s communities.”

There have been three previous overall winners of the My Place Awards.  

In 2010 the award was won by Castlemilk Stables, a beautiful and imaginative restoration of the historic ‘B’ listed Castlemilk House Stables Block, originally designed in 1790.  The project was designed by Elder and Cannon Architects and nominated for the award by Glasgow Building Preservation Trust.  Externally much of the original building has been restored to resemble its original appearance but internally the architects used an exciting and elegant contemporary design. 

Completed in July 2007 and handed over to the community this project is situated in an area of multiple deprivation on the periphery of Glasgow. The vision came from the community who were intent on saving a derelict 18th century Stable Block in the heart of their area.  Glasgow Building Preservation Trust entered into partnership with Cassiltoun Housing Association, to meet the aspirations of the community to restore the building.

In 2011 Shettleston Housing Association Offices, again designed by Elder and Cannon Architects, and nominated by Dennistoun Housing Association, won.   An inspiring building was achieved within a modest budget that respected the Association’s history, its neighbours, its staff and its users.

The creation of Shettleston Housing Association’s Office involved the adaptive restoration of the Cooperative Hall, a historically, culturally and architecturally significant building within Shettleston, to create new office and public reception space which will afford the Association the opportunity to further expand the scope of their service and community work. The project seeks to act as a beacon and driver for investment in this historically deprived area of Glasgow and to provide a home from where the Association can effectively work and serve the local community.

In 2012, Maryhill Burgh Halls, designed by JM Architects was the overall winner.  The eight-year, £9.5m project has demonstrated best practice by involving the community throughout, working with local people to identify uses for the buildings, and involving them in the development proposals and undertaking significant ongoing outreach work with organisations and schools to ensure the project was widely understood and supported .  The team established key partnerships with local housing associations, museums, and the Council, and created a detailed business plan, to ensure long-term financial self-sustainability by incorporating a balanced mix of commercial and community spaces. This project used dynamic building regeneration, and sustainable uses, as a catalyst to ensure that the Halls will again fulfill their wider place-making role as a much needed and enjoyable community resource in a deprived area of Glasgow.

Examples of previous entries, winners, commendations and civic champions can be viewed at   The Scottish Civic Trust My Place Awards is organised by the Scottish Civic Trust and supported by the Scottish Government.

Nominations for the Scottish Civic Trust My Place Award 2013 can be submitted online at ENTRY IS FREE.  Entries for both categories will be published online and the winning and commended entries will be presented at a special ceremony at The Lighthouse in March 2013.