A Transformation Complete

On Thursday 7th February Director Gordon Gibb and Project Architect Kirsten Stewart had the pleasure of attending a Gala Dinner held by National Museums Scotland in celebration of the completion of the 15-year masterplan to transform the National Museum of Scotland. In this piece, originally written for the event programme, Gibb gives an account of the project he came to oversee and that so many from our studio had a part in.

A Museum for the 21st century

The National Museum of Scotland is a glorious building and an inspiring place to visit. But at the start of the 21st century, the venerable Victorian institution had become rather faded, particularly in comparison to the striking new Museum of Scotland building which had opened alongside in 1998.

Architect Gareth Hoskins felt a strong personal connection to the Museum and was delighted when, in 2003, the Board of Trustees and Director Dr Gordon Rintoul announced his practice as the winner of the international competition to develop a Masterplan for the Museum’s transformation. It was a huge leap of faith on the part of the Museum to appoint a small, five-year-old, Glasgow-based practice in the face of a strong international field but there was an obvious meeting of minds.

Created with the involvement of New York and London based museum exhibition designers Ralph Applebaum Associates, the Masterplan laid out the way in which the Museum would be made fit for the 21st century. For this to happen, it had to be extensively re-imagined for the visitors of today. The original building would be restored to its former glory and better links created to the city beyond. The displays would be integrated with the architecture, and the whole museum made accessible to all, giving visitors a vastly enriched experience.

Fifteen years later, the transformation is complete. A visit now begins with a street-level entry into opened-up former cellars, the Caithness stone paving blurring the distinction between the museum inside and the public realm and new piazza outside. Light filters from above, drawing visitors up to the extraordinary 19th-century Grand Gallery, ‘a birdcage of glass and iron’. From here, visitors can see the whole Museum, the five-storey ‘Window on the World’ and glazed lifts drawing the eye to the upper floors where in the past few visitors explored. Large exhibits such as a giant elk, a feast bowl from the Pacific and the statue of James Watt signpost the galleries beyond.

Previously blocked up arches and doorways have been reopened to recreate sight lines that run the length of the building. These new views entice visitors to explore further and make orientation easier. The transformation has enabled many thousands more objects to be put on display, shared in imaginative and exciting ways with the Museum’s millions of visitors.

Sadly, Gareth Hoskins died in 2016, at the early age of 48. Winning the original competition was a massive step forward for the practice and for Gareth personally. He had a vision for the Museum that matched the ambitions of the Director and Board of Trustees. The transformation of the National Museum of Scotland remains one of the most important projects in Hoskins Architects’ portfolio and is one of which Gareth was immensely proud.

Gordon Gibb, Hoskins Architects

08 February, 2019

Grassmarket Community Project Courtyard Extension

Hoskins Architects has submitted a planning application for an extension to the award-winning Grassmarket Centre, originally completed by the practice in 2013 and thriving home to the Grassmarket Community Project since. The two-storey extension will deliver increased and improved teaching facilities for the provision of support and social enterprise for vulnerable citizens in the area. The highly popular café will also be expanded, in a move to ensure the vital income streams necessary for the charity to continue to operate and prosper.

In plan, the extension is angled so that a generous opening to the street, providing a welcoming approach to the building, is maintained. Taking its design language from the 2013 building the internal corner, where the extension meets the existing building, is formed by continuing the glazed curtain walling to create an open façade, allowing light and views in. The street-facing edge is, conversely, formed of solid metal cladding to reflect the solidity of the adjacent building while contrasting with the rough, porous texture of the stone and creates a striking street presence for the Grassmarket Centre. This solid piece is punctured by a single window, allowing a view into the café space to publicise its function and entice visitors. The project is to be completed with a minimum of disruption to the operation of the Centre, in order that the important service provided to vulnerable members of society is continuous.

Grassmarket Community Project takes an innovative approach to creating community and providing sanctuary and support to participants, many of whom are amongst the most vulnerable of our citizens. Through mentoring, social enterprise, training and education in a nurturing environment, the Project develops skills which enable participants to develop to their full potential and move away from cycles of failure.

Further information on the Grassmarket Community Project available here: www.grassmarket.org
Hoskins Architects’ project page for original building is here: https://bit.ly/2FWdydu

31 January, 2019

Gareth Hoskins 15 Apr 1967 – 09 Jan 2016

We continue to nurture the ethos of inclusion, creativity and enthusiasm in the practice he established over 20 years ago.

(sketches for Mackintosh gallery at the Lighthouse, 1998/9)

09 January, 2019

Three in a Row for HA - BBH Best Primary Care (New Build) Project

For three consecutive years, Hoskins Architects has won the Building Better Healthcare (BBHC) Award for Best Primary Care (New Build), for three different clients, with three new Primary Healthcare Buildings, each with a unique set of challenges.

What all of the projects share is a client that understands the positive influence good design can have on the way patients access care.

Read the recent article about the three winning buildings published on the Building Better Healthcare website:

08 January, 2019

Festive Wishes from all at Hoskins Architects

Featured: Paper Cut Baubles by Chloe Fawcett –
Brodie / Weltmuseum / Rockvilla

Wishing all our clients, consultants, friends and colleagues a wonderful festive break and sending best wishes for the new year, from all the staff at Hoskins Architects.

This year we are again supporting Shelter and Social Bite.


Hoskins Architects’ festive holidays:
Glasgow office will close at lunchtime on Friday 21st December and will re-open on Monday 7th January.
Berlin office will close at the end of Friday 21st December and will re-open on Wednesday 2nd January.
Have a fabulous festive break!


Hoskins Architects wünscht frohe Weihnachten!

Unser Büro in Berlin ist geschlossen von Samstag, den 22. Dezember bis Dienstag, den 1. Januar. Ab Mittwoch, den 2. Januar sind wir wieder für Sie da.
Unser Büro in Glasgow ist von Samstag, den 22. Dezember bis Sonntag, den 6. Januar geschlossen.

19 December, 2018

Dream House - Workshop 15/09/18

As part of Glasgow Doors Open Day 2018, Hoskins Architects' welcomed over 75 visitors to our workshop ‘Dream House’ on 15/09/18. Guests had a chance to design & model their own ‘Dream House’ from plasticine. Throughout the day, thanks to the fun and creative imagination of all our visitors, an impressive landscape was constructed! We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to stop by and let their creative juices flow, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

A special thanks to Brian McGinley from McGinley Bell, for stopping by and showing us some of their up and coming projects and talking us through the award winning refurbishment of SouthBlock.

To keep up to date with the goings-on follow us on Twitter @Hoskins_Arch for future news and other events.

03 October, 2018