Centre for Energy and the Environment

North Highland College
University of the Highlands & Islands


Thurso, Caithness, Scotland


IAA Awards 2008 – Lost Opportunities


In 2007 HRI Architects were invited to enter a restricted design competition organized by Highlands and Islands Enterprise for a Centre for Energy and the Environment to provide a facility to accommodate the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Millennium Institute, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and AOC Archaeology Group in a single building that provided a base for teaching, research and archive.

HRI Architects were delighted to win the competition and take the project forward to the stage where it could be fully costed and submitted for detailed planning consent.

The design created three separate buildings; the east building accommodated the UHI and AOC research facilities, the central core housed the reception, library and suspended lecture facility, and the western building was designed to accommodate UKAEA, all of which were linked with glazed atriums.

The form was derived from a simple repeating glulam structural frame with highly insulated timber frame infill panels. The design demonstrated the potential for future expansion both within and external to the core design.

The design was also developed to have the potential to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

The design subsequently won the Inverness Architectural Association’s (IAA) design awards category of ‘lost opportunities’ since sadly the project never materialised in this form. However we HRI Architects were to go on to design the later iteration of the UHI Millennium Institute Centre for Energy and the Environment as an extension to the Thurso College campus in 2011.