Nicoll Russell Studios have beaten global competition to secure a £1m contract to deliver a unique visitor experience, which will form part of one of the most exciting community projects in the UK.
Nicoll Russell Studios, have been selected to deliver the prestigious contract following a design competition and tender process managed by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) seeking ambitious designs for a functional but visionary visitor centre as part of the £41 million Helix Project near Falkirk.
The practice will also deliver their designs for an internal public space located within a 30m high Kelpie head - a Scottish mythical water horse - created by world-renowned sculptor, Andy Scott, in a move that will establish a dramatic, multi-sensory experience anticipated to generate significant levels of repeat visits.
The Helix Project is a transformational programme of works set to turn a 300-hectare area of under-used land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a thriving new green space, comprising:
• central park and lagoon
• cycle network and foot paths
• woodland areas
• canal hub and extension connecting Grangemouth with the Firth of Forth network
• series of public artworks and
• the Kelpies – two 30m high structures in the shape of two horses heads created by the internationally renowned Andy Scott.
Nicoll Russell Studios’ designs were selected by a panel of four judges for their use of light, space and strength of visual elements as well as the connection between the two separate structures, which work seamlessly together to create a distinctive experience.
Brian Moore, director of RIAS Consultancy said; “The calibre and level of response to the competition was overwhelming and myself and the other judges had a tough time trying to shortlist five let alone decide on a winner.
“Ultimately, we were looking for a practice whose designs best met the objectives of the wider project and which would deliver an architecturally outstanding but realistic proposal within the given budget.”
Andy Baxter, a partner at Nicoll Russell Studios, said: “Winning this design competition against an international field is a superb accolade and we are delighted with the outcome. It reinforces the profile of our practice, continuing a string of success across the UK and we are looking forward to seeing the designs move from the drawing board into reality.”
Sculptor Andy Scott commented on the chosen designs. He said: “It was a tough decision but for me, I could see how the internal space and visitor centre would work together. These are exciting times and I am delighted by both the prospect of seeing the designs come to life and to the contract being awarded to a Scottish company with an international reputation for excellence.”
Mike King, programme director for the Helix Project, welcomed the outcome of the competition. He said: "This is a great result and demonstrates the quality and strength of architecture and design in Scotland.
“Nicoll Russell Studios’ designs are dynamic and engaging and showed a clear understanding of the requirements of the brief, set against the backdrop of the wider project objectives. The Helix is amongst the most exciting transformation programmes under way in the UK right now and one of our key aims is to create a unique multi-visitor experience that will firmly establish the project as a ‘must see’ destination on the national and international tourism map.”
The Helix Project is being delivered by the Helix Trust in partnership with Falkirk Council, British Waterways Scotland and Central Scotland Forest Trust and has been part funded by a £25million lottery grant awarded by the Big Lottery Fund.
This project aims to establish a multi-functional outdoor space (a Living Landmark) for the local and wider Scottish community that will encourage pursuits such as walking, running, cycling and sailing and the creation of a key international visitor destination, which will significantly boost the local economy.