Moxon Architects has united three diverse elements to make a single headquarters building for Aberdeenshire Council in the fishing port of Fraserburgh: the existing nineteenth-century Town House, a neighbouring derelict police station, and a new extension clad in corten weathering steel.
The intention was that the new civic complex – the Faithlie Centre – should be more accessible to the public and reinvigorate a key part of the town centre, acting as a catalyst for ongoing restoration work. “The project also provides an exemplar for reinstatement of original architectural detail in the town centre, which is characterised by sheer-sided fish processing sheds ranked up against the handsome masonry architecture of its nineteenth-century heyday”, says the architect.
The rectilinear extension sits to the rear of the two existing buildings and binds them together, serving as both a means of unencumbered access to all levels and a new ‘front of house’ to council services. It also contains meeting space for public and council use. “The use of weathering steel and curtain walling allow the extension to be visually distinct from the original buildings whilst providing views through to the original masonry, enhancing the existing building, without obscuring it”, says the architect.
“Crucially”, says the architect, “the extension addresses both the harbour area that can be seen from the top of the building – providing a direct material reference in terms of colour, texture and pattern to the defining industry of the town – and the public housing of North Braeheads for which it provides a newly active frontage, enlivened by the movement of building users and the layering of reflection, shadow and light”.
The Town House, built in 1853 by architect Thomas Mackenzie, already housed the council chambers. Together with conservation architect Alan S Marshall, Moxon has endeavoured to restore original sandstone mouldings that had been eroded over time by the harsh maritime environment, and replaced original fabric with new copies from the same quarry where the damage was too extensive.
Internally, the building has been repaired where the original fabric remained, and stripped back to the masonry where compromised beyond salvage. “New and restored interior linings and details have been finished uniformly in white, emphasising the delicacy of restored mouldings and original patterned lincrusta wall coverings”, says the architect.