The Engine Shed, Stirling

The Engine Shed, Stirling

The Engine Shed is Scotland’s building conservation centre. Created and managed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), it promotes engagement with traditional buildings and educates people about the skills and materials required to build, conserve and maintain them.

Housed in a redundant MOD railway building with new wings, the project created a new sustainable building showcasing traditional craft and natural materials, with the aim of shifting the view of conservation and heritage from being something of the past, to something engaging, interesting, contemporary and fun. The objective for the building was to create a new and dynamic centre to bring together the HES' conservation experts in science, education and outreach, and to combine both a visitor attraction and a space for learning and engagement with the built heritage.

The ethos of railway and industrial buildings was taken as the starting point for the design, with the intention to keep the original shed as a single volume putting reception areas, offices, work spaces and ancillary accommodation into new wings.

We were initially appointed to support HES in defining the sustainable design criteria as part of their briefing process for the Engine Shed. To do this we led a workshop with key stakeholders to collaboratively identify and benchmark sustainability challenges and possibilities for the building and documented the targets within a bespoke Sustainability Matrix. The matrix set out the project's sustainability brief and aspirations, set against the industry's capabilities. HES used the Sustainability Matrix in the tendering process to convey the sustainability aspirations to bidding designers. The Sustainability Matrix, which had several elements in the ‘Pioneering’ range, was then used to aid the design development and decision-making process for the project.

Following the initial sustainability brief-setting, we were also appointed to provide M&E design services, alongside a new appointment for ongoing sustainability monitoring, two year aftercare and Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE). Historic Environment Scotland’s aim from the outset was for the project to be an exemplar in terms of sustainability: from design, through construction, to the operation and management of the building. We were also appointed as Soft Landings champion for the project.

Our environmental design includes a ground source heat pump and underfloor heating, allowing sensitive insertion into the existing building. The ground loop provides direct exchange cooling, with no refrigeration circuit, using 80% less electricity than an equivalent refrigeration based system.

Our acoustics input included integration of a lecture theatre pod within the larger volume of a workshop/exhibition space; the acoustic design balances flexibility with the provision of acoustic isolation of the lecture theatre from surrounding spaces. We have also advised on sound insulation and acoustic absorption for the various seminar spaces and workshops.

The Engine Shed opened for public use in 2017. Since opening, we have continued to be involved in the aftercare of the building, including monitoring and reporting on energy and building performance and overseeing fine tuning. We also completed an “as-built” Sustainability Matrix to show the client what has actually been achieved.

The Engine Shed was shortlisted for the 2018 Building Magazine 'Building Performance Award' and was awarded 'Soft Landings Project of the Year (up to £20m)' at the 2019 BSRIA Soft Landing Awards. Later it won 'Building Performance Champion' and 'Public Use Project of the Year' at the CIBSE Building Performance Awards 2020.

"We are all really proud of the building. We all talk about the sustainable features and we are very proud of it.” - HES Staff member


Historic Environment Scotland / Reiach and Hall






Historic Environment Scotland

Rob McDougall Info
The reuse of the original Main Shed is inherently sustainable. Additionally, fabric insulation and passive design strategies were taken to innovative levels. The two new sheds either side provide insulation to the Main Shed and complement the extensive sheep's wool internal lining to the Main Shed gable end walls, which is faced with porous clayboard to alleviate condensation issues introduced by internal insulation. HES continue to lead world class research in retrofit improvements to historic buildings.
Rob McDougall Info
Refurbished hopper ventilation openings are cable operated by remote actuators to provide effective stack and cross ventilation, needed particularly during large events. This allows the auditorium audience to extend into the main space for large events.
Rob McDougall Info
Heavily serviced units - such as WCs, kitchens and server rooms - are located in pods within the expansive light and airy main spaces.
Rob McDougall Info
The new wings' timber structures are infilled with triple glazing and deep sheep's wool insulation to meet modern standards of thermal performance.
Rob McDougall Info
The Lecture Theatre was constructed from reclaimed school gym flooring, highlighting the sustainable use of materials. The Lecture Theatre can be opened up to cater for larger audiences.