Stirling Tolbooth

2001 / Stirling, Scotland

  1. main stair
  2. main stair
  3. foyer
  4. auditorium
  5. backpack
  6. service stair
  7. dance studio
  8. exterior

Completed - 2001. Contract value - £4.1m.

A complex of buildings dating from the seventeenth century onwards, the Old Tolbooth in Stirling has functioned variously as a town hall, a courthouse and jail. In 1997 Stirling Council held an invited competition to renovate the Tolbooth as a music focused Arts venue, opening the building up to the local community and the wider public for performance and participation.

The existing building forms a ‘u’ shape with the court house occupying the central section and vaults underneath. It sits between the two main streets on the approach to the castle. As part of the design, the connecting street of Jail Wynd has been closed and pedestrianised and it is here we have that made a new entrance utilising one of the vault spaces as a passageway.

The ‘A’ Listed existing building has been interfered with as little as possible, so that the elevations to the public streets, and the fine interiors retain their character and can be enjoyed as ‘the old Tolbooth’. Special interiors have been reserved for special uses within the existing building, so that the old Courtroom is reused as the pre-eminent performance space, the robing room as a grand bar, and the old council chamber as a high quality restaurant.

All the major interventions necessary to achieve the above have been located in the only empty space available on this restricted site: the eastern courtyard. Here is found the foyer and circulation system of the building. Overhanging it is a lead cassette (known as the ‘backpack’) containing the extension to the courtroom which creates the auditorium and above it the air handling plant. Using this space as the foyer allows visual and actual access to all the facilities and permits a single lift to reach the many diverse existing levels.

Photos by Keith Hunter ©