Architectural nod for £16.5m aquarium built by the sea

Scottish Oceans Institute. Image: Tom Manley.

The recently opened £16.5million Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) at the University of St Andrews has been nominated for a national award for its architectural design.

Formally opened by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in September 2019, the building has been nominated for the Architectural Excellence Award (Public Use) award at the 2020 Scottish Property Awards.

The building is a global hub for marine research focused on conservation and understanding the effects of climate change on our oceans. The design uses renewable materials such external cladding made from rice husks to create a contemporary design which respects and enhances the institute’s unique position on St Andrews’ East Sands beach.

The design by Glasgow based BMJ Architects is heavily influenced by the building’s location beside the sea. Weathered Corten steel solar shading wraps the façade like water lapping against a sea wall with a striking entrance inspired by a ship’s sail. The wave shaped roof floats above a clear glazed façade, providing stunning views over the Fife coastline.

The SOI is located on the site of the original ‘Gatty Marine Laboratory’ by St Andrews’ East Sands which was opened in 1896. The new building incorporates a state-of-the-art aquarium as well as researching and teaching facilities.

JLL project managed the scheme which was built by Balfour Beatty. The construction was highly challenging due to the restricted nature of the site, demolition works, and extensive specialist plant requirements.

Niall Robertson, Director at JLL said: “The Scottish Oceans Institute is a remarkable building and a world-class facility that Scotland can be truly proud of. A series of partners were involved in the scheme’s process from its conception to delivery. To be collectively nominated for such a significant award is testament to the vision and collaboration shown from each of these partners. We are proud to have project managed the entire project from start to finish, so to see the building now open and being used as intended is incredibly satisfying.”

The nomination represents the work carried out by a range of partners involved in the build, including JLL, BMJ Architects, RSP Consulting Engineers, Morgan Associates, B&W, Sentinel and Gleeds.

The 7th annual Scottish Property Awards & Dinner will take place on Thursday 20th February 2020 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.