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Scotland’s new national building conservation centre officially open

Based at Forthside Way in Stirling, the Engine Shed seeks to ensure the knowledge, skills and materials are available to look after the important cultural and economic asset that is Scotland’s 450,000 traditional buildings.

The new learning and visitor resource was officially opened by cabinet secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop and will serve as the national conservation hub, using world-leading innovation to bring Scotland’s built heritage to life through technology and hands-on activities.

With sustainability at the heart of the building’s conservation, the former MOD munitions store has been respectfully adapted, retaining much of the original fabric and character of the original building while demonstrating how traditional materials can be used in a modern context in two extensions, also incorporating modern technologies to enhance its energy efficiency.

The centrepiece of the main space is a large-scale map of Scotland compiled from hi-resolution satellite images, from which visitors can access additional information using an iPad as an augmented reality device. With interactive exhibits, a 4K 3D auditorium and augmented reality experiences, the Engine Shed aims to spark the public’s passion and interest with Scotland’s historic environment and inspire a new generation to be interested in traditional buildings.

The Engine Shed will be home to Historic Environment Scotland’s building conservation research and education facility, which will share its world class expertise with national and international partners in building conservation.

People across Scotland are being invited to visit the Engine Shed as it unveils a summer programme of events designed to encourage a greater understanding of Scotland’s historic buildings and traditional craft skills, as part of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. Workshops will include creating pieces inspired by Mackintosh’s designs currently on temporary display at the Engine Shed, which were recovered from the fire that affected The Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building in 2014.

Chair of Historic Environment Scotland Jane Ryder said: “Today’s opening marks a significant milestone in the journey of Historic Environment Scotland and the Engine Shed is a visible demonstration of our commitment to both leading and supporting the vital heritage economy.

“It is the result of great collaboration and partnership working, and thanks must go to the Scottish Government, Heritage Lottery Fund, European Regional Development Fund and the Historic Scotland Foundation, who have supported us in delivering this unique facility. In particular, thanks must go to our partners at Stirling Council for providing us with the building, which I hope will play a key role in continuing to maximise the potential of heritage-led regeneration through their broader city deal.

“This world-class facility is a wonderful living classroom with science and technology at its core, demonstrating that innovation can be inspired by the past. The Engine Shed is about thinking differently and challenging perceptions, which will act as a catalyst and a beacon for the historic environment.”

Cabinet secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “The new Engine Shed will couple state-of-the-art technology and world-leading innovation with our historic building traditions, inspiring a new generation to learn the traditional skills and use the authentic materials that will help to keep Scotland’s history alive.

“The Scottish Government has proudly supported this ambitious project since its very beginning, underlining the importance we place on protecting, preserving and promoting our rich history, heritage and built environment.

“I am particularly pleased to open the Engine Shed during Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. The centre will help to provide a lasting legacy for the year, increasing knowledge and understanding of the values of our precious historic environment.”

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland Lucy Casot, said: “What is being done at the Engine Shed is leading the way, not just in Scotland but in the UK. We need people with traditional building skills to look after our heritage. Without them, historic buildings, whether it’s the local bank or a national monument, will crumble. Thanks to players of the National Lottery, we have been able to support this centre of excellence which will ensure that a new generation is equipped with the skills to care for the fabric of our nation.”

Stirling Council Leader Scott Farmer said: “Stirling Council has been delighted to support the development of The Engine Shed since the project’s inception and look forward to working closely on it with our partners Historic Environment Scotland. This adds another world class attraction to Stirling which will have a big impact economically, culturally and socially across the whole area.”

The Engine Shed will open its doors to the public on Monday 3 July and the building is open Monday to Saturday, between 10am-4pm. Entry is free. The building will be available to hire as a conference space, with room for up to 200 delegates.

For further information please visit the Engine Shed website.

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