Robertson construction refurbishment of historic pavilion in Rothesay

Refurbishment of Rothesay Pavilion


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Community facilities
£6.7m (phase 1)
Argyll and Bute Council
August 2024
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Restoring a Grade A listed building to its former glory and more

Robertson is renovating Rothesay Pavillion on the Isle of Bute. A unique Grade A listed building designed in the International Modernist style, it was constructed as Britain emerged from the Depression of the 1930’s and entered the Industrial age.

Designed by James Carrick and built in 1938, Rothesay Pavilion is a building of unique international architectural significance.

With its modern shape and Bauhaus-inspired influences, the Pavilion earns its place as one of Scotland's contemporary architectural icons and as one of only two public buildings of its architectural style remaining in the UK.

Rothesay Pavilion has a distinctive character and unique heritage. As home to Scottish variety entertainment and community gatherings and celebrations, it has played a key role in the lives of Bute's communities and the many visitors who have cherished it for generations.

But the building has been in urgent need of repair.

The effects of its exposed seafront location meant that the Pavilion suffered significant wear and tear over the years. A restoration of this nature and complexity requires the full range of Robertson's skill and experience necessary to preserve and protect the character and fabric of this important national asset and secure its future as a modern, fully accessible facility fit for the 21st Century.

A hub for the Rothesay community

Our customer, Argyll and Bute Council, has ambitious plans for their area, and Rothesay Pavilion at the heart of their regeneration efforts for the island.

As a new cultural and creative industries powerhouse, with its rich heritage, mix of facilties and programme of activities old and new, Rothesay Pavilion will contribute to the wider appeal of the island as a must see national visitor attraction, beacon of modern family entertainment and stimulus for next generation careers.

Existing and new facilities on offer over three floors comprise:

  • 1000 capacity main auditorium with original sprung dance floor, state of the art sound system, stage and bar
  • Cafe and retail area where visitors will enjoy spectacular views across the Clyde coast, a 'taste of Bute's kitchen,' and purchase the work of local, national and international artists and makers.
  • New self-contained studio /performance space with separate entrance and bar
  • New Gallery/Exhibition Space
  • New Office accommodation and co-working space for business start ups
  • New multi -media facilities and support for next generation careers in tourism, creative industries and heritage.

Construction on an island

The Covid-19 pandemic threw the entire refurbishment into doubt. However, beyond the challenges brought about by the previous contractor's departure and Covid-19, another significant element is the island location. Unpredictable weather conditions and potential transport issues in accessing the mainland add complexibity to the operation, affecting our supply chain, materials choice, and project timescales.

In partnership with Argyll and Bute Council, we have drawn on an extensive and committed network of supplers partners to devise a flexible staged plan and timetable to overcome these potential issues and budget constraints.

Alongside the location, another challenge is working on the structure itself. The Pavilion occupies an exposed position on the seafront. Therefore our team has constructed a bespoke scaffolding system and over roof around the building to allow all-year-round access, ensuring the safety of our team and the ability to continue working in all types of weather.

This tailored approach to client partnership and attention to detail is what sets Robertson apart – it's the Robertson Way.

An exciting future

With its unique history, heritage and design, Rothesay Pavilion is capable of making an impression on the world stage. It offers a catalyst to improve the fortunes of Bute's communities, especially young people and families of every generation. So much so, it is supported by a significant range of national investors namely, The Scottish Government, National Heritage Lottery Foundation, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Robertson Trust, Foyle Foundation, Garfeld Weston and the Wolfson Foundation.

On completion, the building will be managed by the Rothesay Pavilion Charity, a registered Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) set up in 2014 to run the operation for the benefit the community, with the same creative enterprise and imagination that first engineered it.

Images by Elder & Cannon Architects