Independent Living Centre

Malcolmson Architects

The new Independent Living Centre at Gremista in Lerwick was commissioned by NHS Shetland and Shetland Islands Council, to provide 1500sqm of multi-purpose accommodation for occupational, speech and language therapists and care at home staff.

The Centre is a purpose built facility that provides a unique showroom environment for members of the public to view and try a wide range of disability products. It also houses the Community Equipment Store and offices for health and care.

The building is located in Lerwick's industrial estate at Gremista, to the North of the town. The surrounding built environment is characterised by prosaic, functional buildings associated with fishing, haulage and shipping activities. This industrial landscape is contrasted against a spectacular backdrop, with views across the sea to Bressay and the northern isles, and south towards the town centre.

The site itself was steeply sloping, made up from loose rock and fill, and bounded on 3 sides by industrial access roads.

The challenge of the brief was to create a building that catered for three very different functions, on a difficult site for a very constrained budget.

The building design maximises a steeply sloping site to create a three storey building with split level access on the ground and third floor. This sectional organisation of the accommodation clearly defines and rationalises the different processes and functions within the building. Deliveries, storage, and maintenance of highly specialised equipment is located on the ground floor. Office and staff accommodation occupies the middle floor with spectacular views across the harbour. All public access areas for demonstration, training and consultations are housed on the third floor with its own entrance reception and upper level car park.

The selection of materials take their cue from the industrial surroundings and provide an economical external envelope. However the horizontal profile, strip glazing, and link bridge combine to create a more sophisticated building than the surrounding sheds. The careful use vibrant colours on internal walls provides a layer of warmth and colour to the external elevations when viewed through the glazed areas..

Internally simple detailing, a restricted palate of materials, bold forms and use of colour, help to define the spaces and provide a suitable backdrop for equipment and the various activities going on within the building.

The building serves as a one-stop-shop for information, equipment and staff training and is a revolutionary facility that enables over 2000 people in the isles who require specialised equipment to remain in their own home.




Suzanne Malcolmson


Shetland Islands Council/ NHS






  • Commercial
  • Health