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Macallan Distillery in running to be named the UK's best new building

The 'high-tech and futuristic' Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience in Speyside is in the running to be named Britain's best new building.

Published: July 18, 2019

The £140 million state-of-the-art facility, which opened in summer last year, is going up against a cork house, an opera theatre and a council estate to take the crown.

Six builds in total have been shortlisted for this year's Riba Stirling Prize.

Edrington’s Macallan Distillery, which was announced in 2013 and was built on land adjacent to their existing distillery.

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Described at the time as a “site of major architectural significance” in the heart of Speyside, the new site was to be built to reflect and complement the natural beauty of the area surrounding The Macallan Estate.

It features an undulating roof planted with a Scottish wildflower meadow and is  “cut into the slope of the landscape” of the hill site on Easter Elchies Estate overlooking the river Spey.

Its rivals for this year's award include the "experimental" Cork House in Berkshire, made almost entirely from plant-based materials, that has been compared to a "giant, organic Lego system" for the way in which it can be easily assembled and disassembled.

• READ MORE: In pictures: A first look at the new £140m Macallan Distillery

The "ingenious" home is made almost entirely from cork - aside from some timber, structural beams and glass windows - and described as a "first of its kind".

With a solid structural cork wall and roof, the building "emits next to zero carbon", with all of the components able to be reused or recycled, and the expanded cork blocks were made using by-product and waste from cork forestry and the cork stopper industry.

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Meanwhile, a council housing scheme built entirely for social rent is on the shortlist for the first time.

Judges said the streets feel safe and "owned" by pedestrians, rather than cars, thanks to the design.

Goldsmith Street is a large development of 105 "highly energy-efficient homes" for social rent, for Norwich City Council.

The "radical reconfiguration and development" of London Bridge Station is also on the shortlist.

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The busy London station now has a "voluminous, light-filled concourse" and "does not feel overcrowded, even during rush hour" as a result of "bold, radical interventions".

Nevill Holt Opera, a £5 million contemporary opera theatre within a 17th-century stable block in Leicestershire has also been whittled down from a longlist of more than 50.

And Yorkshire Sculpture Park's £3.6 million visitor centre and gallery The Weston, on the site of a former millstone grit quarry, completes the shortlist.

Judges say it is "almost as though the building has been hewn from the ground."

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Riba president Ben Derbyshire said the shortlist comes as the "UK faces the worst housing crisis for generations".

He said: "These six buildings could hardly be more diverse in typology and scale - from a rustic stable block-turned-theatre to a vast national railway station.
"But what they have in common - ground-breaking innovation, extraordinary creativity and the highest quality materials and detailing - sets them apart, rightfully earning them a chance to win the highest accolade in architecture."

He added: "Given the fact the UK faces the worst housing crisis for generations and a global climate emergency, we must encourage their architectural ambition, innovation, bravery and skill.

"From the way that Cork House experiments with plant-based materials, to Goldsmith Street's ultra-low energy affordable homes, each of these six buildings push the boundaries of architecture, exceeding what has been done before, and providing solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our times."

A new tower at Westminster Abbey, Battersea Arts Centre in London, which had been left derelict after a fire, the restoration of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Art Deco tea rooms in Glasgow and V&A Dundee all made the longlist but failed to make the cut for the shortlist.

The winner of the 2019 Riba Stirling Prize will be announced on October 8 at the Roundhouse in London.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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