• Client:
    Historic Scotland
  • Location:
  • Contract Value:

National Conservation Centre

The scheme has transformed the derelict railway engine shed building into a world learning education centre for building conservation in Scotland, creating and delivering educational resources and training on traditional buildings and materials. As well as providing a centre of excellence for those already operating in the sector, the Engine Shed provides the opportunity for knowledge sharing through the creation of a ‘knowledge hub’ with events, exhibitions and activities for the general public.

A modern timber frame was used for the extension to the east and west sides of the existing building. The new sheds complement the existing building by taking their cues from the original and results in a continuity of façade. The external walls were clad in zinc and insulated using sheep wool. The choice of grey zinc has been used to blend and tone in with the existing slate roof and minimise the impact from key vantage points such as the castle.

The new sheds also showcase contemporary use of traditional materials. The Engine Shed influenced the design of the extensions and they have a distinctly industrial feel including the exposed, surface mounted conduit and fittings.

Upgrading of the existing building was completed and much of the original fabric and character of the building was retained. The original roof was one of the existing features to be retained and the roof tiles were cleaned and reinstated. The original windows were removed, refurbished and reinstalled in order to further preserve the centres heritage.

The central building floor level was reduced by 1.3m to create a level surface ready for the construction of a new lecture theatre as well as an exhibition and activity space. The building also makes use glazing to ensure that building is predominantly lit naturally during the day, reducing total energy demand and this also allows the building to take advantage of solar heat gain.

The west extension houses the reception area and all associated public facilities. The remainder of the wing has been designed as flexible/re-configurable space that can be used as seminar, break out or exhibition space. The east extension has workspace for Historic Scotland staff and visiting students including laboratory space for the conservation scientists.


The two new build sheds were highly insulated using sheep wool insulation, which is available from UK suppliers and has low energy use in its manufacture. The use of sheep wool also ensured minimal wastage as the off cuts were used as infill material.

The timber frame was constructed from timber sourced from properly managed woodlands. Timber was chosen as it is a renewable and recyclable material with a low embodied energy in its manufacture. The lower weight of the timber frame also provided savings in the concrete required for the foundations, erection and transport of materials.

Added Value

Valuable work experience days and working hours were provided to Evue Afikparobo, who was studying a masters degree in Quantity Surveying at Glasgow Caledonian University. Further to this we were able to provide work experience to a number of a number of apprentices comprising of a first, second and third year joinery apprentice, a second and third year M&E apprentice and two fourth year masonry apprentices. In additional to the work experience offered we also had 91 student of various ages visit the site and speak with the different trades involved.

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