The Laura Grimond Award for Architectural Projects was established in 1999 in memory of Laura Grimond, with the aim of encouraging and promoting excellence in the built environment of Orkney, a subject dear to her heart. At a recent meeting of Orkney Heritage Society, it was decided to re-establish the Laura Grimond Award, albeit in a different format from the original competition that was held. The OHS Board of Trustees will now give out an occasional award to a building development that contributes to preserving the architectural heritage of Orkney.
The first recipient in this new format is the extension at the back of 53 Albert Street, Kirkwall, which deserves recognition on a number of levels. It is a testament to the developer’s willingness to spend the extra money to achieve a building that blends into the streetscape of Kirkwall’s historic core, utilising some traditional architectural features such as crow’s steps.
Particularly impressive is the large stone wall built to mask the utilitarian flat roof extension. Laura’s son, Johnny Grimond, commented, “even utilitarian buildings can be made to sit comfortably in historic surroundings. The work is of a high standard. The use of stone is appropriate to the situation and the ‘dry stone’ coping adds an Orcadian touch. All in all, it draws the eye in all the right ways and none of the bad ones”.
The planning authority of Orkney Islands Council deserves a mention for working with the developer and encouraging the use of some of the architectural details.
Not least requiring recognition is the very high standard of work provided by the contractor, R. S. Rendall Ltd, particularly the superb craftsmanship shown by their stonemason, John Hamilton, on the stone walls. Three framed certificates were presented, one to the contractor, Raymie Rendall, one to the developer, Ian Gorn, and one to John Hamilton, stonemason.