The engine shed: national building conservation centre, Stirling (Scotland)


The engine shed: national building conservation centre, Stirling (Scotland)

An adaption / new build project to transform a derelict Engine Shed.






Architect: HES -Ruth Vaughan, Contractor: HL Metals
Technique: VMZINC® Standing Seam, Surface aspect: ANTHRA-ZINC® PLUS


At the heart of this project was a derelict Engine Shed, located in the Forthside area of Stirling. Forthside was formerly a 40 acre site acquired by the Military in the 1880’s. Since the closure of the army base and the sale of the site in the 1990’s the buildings that originally surrounded the Engine Shed have been cleared, with some of the key buildings, including the Engine Shed retained. This has created the opportunity for development and Forthside is now zoned as an important regeneration area within Stirling. It is hoped that the adaption of the derelict Engine Shed would act as a catalyst for further re-development in the Forthside area and there is already evidence that this is the case.



The Engine Shed is now the home of the National Building Conservation Centre which provides a research and education hub for Scotland’s Built Heritage, with a strong focus on digital media and 3D visualisation.


The Architect from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) was strongly influenced in her approach by techniques used in Victorian railway architecture. To achieve the required floor area, new sheds were built to the east and west of the Engine Shed. This approach was commonly used in historic railway architecture, where a shed was designed and then simply repeated until the required amount of accommodation was achieved. The massing of the new sheds was generated by employing another technique used to deal with irregular railway site footprints, by placing a simple vernacular form on the site footprint and allowing the edges of site to slice though the building mass. Lastly to achieve the Architect’s aim to retain the Engine Shed as a single volume, the 4K 3D auditorium and reception facility are housed in roofed pods that sit on the floor of the sheds, an approach that is still evident at Central Station, Glasgow. Traditional railway sheds were industrial buildings but there was a definite attempt to produce designs that were simple and elegant, the Architect had the same goal in mind when designing the Engine Shed.


The new sheds are designed to showcase the contemporary use of traditional and ecological materials including zinc, timber, clay plaster and sheep’s wool insulation. Re-used timber clads the auditorium and reception pods and as many of the materials as possible are self-finished; there is a minimal amount of applied finishes to aid with end of life recycling of materials. Several installation techniques were used for the zinc; standing seam on the roofs and flat lock panel on the facades, this gave the Architect to the flexibility to emulate the cladding of historic engine sheds where the metal cladding on the roof swept seamlessly into the wall cladding.