Dunoon Queen’s Hall, Malcom Fraser Architects
Calum was the project architect leading the design team and co-ordinating the multi-headed council client through the design process to tender stage. The project involves significant alterations to the Queen’s Hall, transforming a currently tired performance building into a lively community hub, including a new direct connection to Dunoon’s main shopping street while maintaining a presence with the adjacent Castle Gardens. As well as the Auditorium being upgraded, the building will benefit from the introduction of: a Health and Fitness Suite, the Town Library; Skills Development Scotland; Visit Scotland, and a Community Soft Play.
Consideration has been given to the elements of the building which currently compromise the internal arrangements and how the building connects to the townscape beyond. The building’s existing connection with the Castle Gardens should in theory be enjoyable, but instead the public entrance is shady in the summer and gloomy in winter, and exposed throughout. A new café brought to the ground floor can spill out into the Gardens in the summer months and otherwise enjoy protected views of the Gardens and the seafront. The existing east-facing Argyll Street elevation lacked confidence as well as physical interaction with the townscape and passing footfall. The alterations strengthen the entrance elevation with an increased verticality and engagement with Argyll Street.
Location: Argyll Street, Dunoon
Client: Argyll & Bute Council
Completed: Engaged to tender stage
Contract value: £6.5m
Greatest challenge: Dunoon’s position on the Cowl peninsular is not unlike an island in character and connectivity. Gone are the days of holiday makers going doon the water in vast numbers, and the nearby naval base is now closed. The Queen’s Hall was designed as a dedicated 1000+ seater venue and this kind of capacity use is rare. The design had to be bold enough to meet the needs of today, accommodating a much more flexible mixture of uses, and work as hard and efficiently as possible to make best use of the funding, given the town’s general demand for regeneration.