Linlithgow Burgh Halls in West Lothian, Scotland, by Malcolm Fraser Architects
Architect completes refurbishment and extension of community halls in West Lothian
Malcolm Fraser Architects has completed a sensitive refurbishment and extension to the historic Burgh Halls in Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland.
The halls, which have served as a community gathering place for hundreds of years, comprise two listed buildings: the grade A tollbooth and clock tower, built in 1668, and the grade B County Hall, linked to the north of the main building in 1820.
The project has seen a series of works to repair the existing structures — strengthening floors, replacing dangerous stonework and providing fire escapes, lifts, toilets and disabled access — while also opening up the building with a new light-filled stair and a café that opens out to a secluded garden.
This connection to the garden was made by punching a large opening in the County Hall facade, linking the reception and main lobby through to the new garden room, which is constructed from an in-situ concrete frame with zinc rainscreen cladding. Three new large French doors open out on to the roof terrace of the garden room, to be used for everything from Tai-chi to wedding speeches.
Conservation provided some particular challenges. In order to stabilise cracked lintels, stainless steel dowels were drilled into place across the fault lines and fixed with resin to “stitch” the lintel in place.
The chimney flues to the east and west gable of the tollbooth were also bulging. The external stonework was tied back using 800mm-long Cintec anchors at half-metre centres and grouted with lime mortar.
In other places, historical images of the original chimneys removed in the 1990s were used to inform the design of new sandstone chimneys, completing the facade.
Overall, the team took a conservation approach to the masonry and only replaced stonework that was considered dangerous or too heavily eroded. It also put lead cappings on every pediment above the windows on the main building, to provide a discreet protective “roof” and prevent further erosion.
The garden room is constructed from an in-situ concrete frame, chosen because a crane would not be able to access the garden to lift large steel or timber beams. It is clad in pre-formed zinc panels, to contrast with the external escape stair and link building, both of which employ a standing-seam system.
Zinc was selected as it would be sympathetic to the historic stonework and lead details of the main building, weathering down and developing a patina with age. A toughened glass balustrade was designed with a hidden fixing detail to provide a delicate relief to the heavy zinc base.
Client West Lothian Council Arts Services
QS West Lothian Council Property Services
Structural engineer Elliott & Company
M&E & CDM Waterman Building Services
Stone consultant Heath Architect & Stone Consultant