An Talla, Inverness
Project: ‘An Talla’ Jacobite Visitor Centre, Dochgarroch, Inverness
Client: Jacobite Cruises Ltd
Completed Project Value: £2.2M
Built-in 1934, the Dochgarroch Village Hall was an essential hub for the village, the school and the wider community it served, with fetes and dances ensuring it became an integral part of the social fabric of the village. Over the last 40 years, as services in Inverness expanded and people became more socially mobile, the use of the hall dwindled, and by 2015 it had become dilapidated with only one occasional user.
When completed, the extended hall would link with the adjacent cruise embarkation point on the Caledonian Canal to revitalise the built environment, creating a new economic driver. The brief was to provide a café, shop, information/reception, and toilets within a sympathetic alteration and extension that “settled” into the village location. The hall retains 90% of the existing features yet is successfully repurposed within a stylish shopping and café experience. The contemporary extension creates a succinct scheme which augments design cues from the original hall. It resists attempts to “out-compete” and simply compliments the mass and form of the existing hall. A new glazed space overlooks the delightful courtyard, all combining to strengthen the connection between old and new.
The finishes and materials were chosen with great care, helping merge old and new. Perfectly matched stone provides seamless connections to the new porches, whilst the dark grey timber cladding contrasts, providing the contemporary element. Design considerations extend into the public realm, including an original Thomas Telford gate design re-imagined as a bespoke fence enclosure and commissioned original art installations by local sculptors bringing life to the courtyard and building. Now renamed, An Talla (the hall), the completed development proudly proclaims its new purpose as a successful national tourism destination with a stylish presence that retains its originality and the affection of local residents and canal users.
‘The former Dochgarroch Village Hall built in the 1930s had been the focus of community activities but in recent years had not been well used. Despite the state of disrepair, the hall remained an important component of the social history of that community and any redevelopment needed to be managed sympathetically. Jacobite Cruises appointed Colin Armstrong Architects to undertake the redevelopment, including the community consultation and planning process, as part of their wider architectural services.
Their empathetic approach was well received as they sought to engage all local groups and
stakeholders as part of the design process. As they progressed their design development, it felt as if the community themselves had become their client, an approach that produced a well-informed and supportive community outcome. The quality of their presentation material made the public engagement meetings very straightforward and easy to manage, a testament to their effectiveness of their overall consultation approach.’
Douglas Yule for Jacobite Cruises