Simpson & Brown Architects with Addyman Archaeology


Press Release : National Marine Centre

Original Seabird Centre architects to work on National Marine Centre project

Conservation and education charity, the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, announces the appointment of Simpson & Brown Architects for the National Marine Centre project.  

The Simpson & Brown team worked on the original, award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre building which opened to the public in May 2000. The Seabird Centre has become a very popular landmark building and has won several architectural and sustainability awards. 

The success of the Seabird Centre led to Simpson & Brown being appointed to design other visitor attractions. Over the last 16 years they have worked on, and won awards for, a range of high profile visitor-related projects including the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, the Dawyck Gateway at the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Arbroath Abbey Visitor Centre, York Art Gallery and, most recently, Rievaulx Abbey Visitor Centre and Museum to name but a few. They also designed the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club building at Aberlady. 

With over 38 years’ experience, Simpson & Brown specialise in conservation projects, creative adaption of existing buildings and the design of environmentally-sound initiatives. The project team will be led by Partner, Andy Davey, with Partner, Susan Whittle and Associate, Jenny Phillips. 

Andy Davey, Partner at Simpson & Brown Architects, said: “Our team is delighted to be involved with the National Marine Centre Project. We are immensely proud of the Seabird Centre building and believe we are ideally placed to develop and strengthen the design to make it even more inspirational as well as functional for visitors and staff. 

“Our work focuses on respecting the past and responding to the challenges for the future, particularly with regards to environmentally sound, sustainable design. As these aspects will be a core focus for the National Marine Centre project we look forward to researching, consulting and developing the designs in partnership with the Seabird Centre team and key stakeholders.”

Grace Martin, Project Director for the National Marine Centre, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Simpson & Brown. Andy and his team have a very strong association with the current building and a wealth of experience in visitor attractions, sustainability and sympathetic design. 

“It is still very early days with the project and we are currently in a period of public consultation. Going forward, Simpson & Brown will be keen to engage with visitors and non-visitors alike to help them identify how best to enhance the existing, iconic Seabird Centre building”.

The aim of the National Marine Centre is to help people discover more about our amazing marine environment and wildlife - life above and below the waves - including seabirds. It will present the opportunity for the Centre to achieve more of its charitable objectives by expanding and diversifying its education and conservation programmes, developing new activities and events, and enhancing the exhibition space. The National Marine Centre is the working title for this innovative project.

The public survey for the project is currently still open, closing on Monday 7 November.



New Edinburgh Office

In 2000 Simpson & Brown with Addyman Archaeology moved from their offices in the Canongate to the newly restored St. Ninians Manse in Leith. In recent years the practice has grown to over 40 people, leading the firm to look for a new home to accommodate its expanding workload. After a long search the opportunity arose to take on a former Victorian warehouse building in the Hillside area of the city. Alteration works will be ongoing until the beginning of 2017 when the new conference rooms, exhibition spaces and landscaping will be complete. Until then the temporary entrance can be accessed from 77a Montgomery Street. 



Penicuik House Commended

Penicuik House in Midlothian has been commended in the 2016 Restoration award, presented by the Historic Houses Association (HHA) and sponsored by Sotheby’s.

The Historic Houses Association/Sotheby’s Restoration Award recognises and celebrates the work being undertaken by Members of the HHA throughout the United Kingdom. These projects reflect the dedication of owners to the care and sympathetic restoration of the incredible buildings that they own, inhabit and share with the public. This year the winning project was Combermere Abbey in Shropshire.

The Penicuik Estate has been home to the Clerk family since 1654, with Penicuik House being designed and built in the 1760s by Sir James Clerk, 3rd Baronet of Penicuik. In 1857 the house was extended with two large wings by the eminent Victorian architect David Bryce. The house was one of the finest neo-Palladian houses in the country until a fire in 1899 devastated the roof and interiors and left the once-magnificent building in ruins.

In 1985, the Penicuik House Preservation Trust was created in order to begin preserving the structure and to allow public access to the ruined house for the first time in over a century. Work began in 2007 and was completed in September 2014. The project took place alongside a wealth of educational and training benefits through a working partnership with the Scottish Lime Centre Trust.

Today, the house exists in a state of conserved ruination, with a Ranger Service to welcome visitors and provide meaningful interpretation of this significant symbol of Scottish heritage and the wider Penicuik Estate.

Richard Compton, President of the Historic Houses Association said: “Once again we received a wide range of brilliant applications for this year’s Restoration Award, reflecting the hard work undertaken by our Members and their commitment to preserving Britain’s heritage. The work undertaken to consolidate the remains of this important 18th- century house is hugely impressive, and a large number of people have learned valuable skills throughout the process. We hope people will continue to enjoy and learn from this wonderful house.”



Willow Tea Rooms - Press Release

September 2015

The restoration of Glasgow’s iconic Willow Tea Rooms and the creation of a world-class Charles Rennie Mackintosh visitor centre took a major step forward today with the appointment of lead design consultants, Edinburgh based Simpson & Brown Architects.

The announcement follows an international competition to find an architecture and design practice capable not only of restoring and renovating The Willow Tea Rooms, which were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for entrepreneur Kate Cranston in 1903, but also creating a state of the art visitor, educational and exhibition centre at 215 Sauchiehall Street, directly adjacent to the tea rooms.

"We know it is a very challenging project for any architectural firm but we were tremendously impressed by Simpson & Brown’s conservation expertise and by the ideas they put forward for the new Mackintosh centre. They will combine the old with the new, perfectly contrasting modern and impressive design with the original splendour of the only remaining Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed tea rooms," explained Celia Sinclair, Founder and Chair of The Willow Tea Rooms Trust, which was established to save and restore The Willow Tea Rooms for the City of Glasgow.

With the diversity of the project Simpson & Brown has assembled a team of architectural conservation and design specialists from companies including Studioarc, Rybka, David Narro Associates, Alliance CDM, Building Learning and People Friendly Design.

John Sanders, Partner and Heritage Specialist at Simpson & Brown will lead the project team and explained; “The complexity of the project required that we bring together a team of experts in their fields to ensure every detail is taken care of and we’ve selected people we respect and admire to work with us.

“The key to the success of the design lies with the Trust’s acquisition of 215 Sauchiehall Street, which will allow us not only to create a world class visitor centre but provide amenities, such as lifts and other facilities, which will be accessible from, but not interfere with, the tea rooms themselves or the experience they provide. Essentially we’re taking the tea rooms back to their celebrated past but also taking them forward in time to make it a unique architectural and design experience.” 

The cost of the project is estimated currently at £7 million, £1 million of which is required to repair and make The Willow Tea Rooms building fully wind and watertight, and for the restoration work on features either lost over the years or damaged as a result of the decline in the fabric of the building.

The Willow Tea Rooms Trust hopes to raise the necessary funding from public and private sector donors as well as from the large number of Charles Rennie Mackintosh admirers around the world.

“We are creating something truly special and sustainable in Sauchiehall Street that will help to create jobs, support tourism, and celebrate and safeguard the legacy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh,” explained Celia Sinclair. “Work will be progressing as quickly as possible to enable us to have everything in place for 2018, which is the 150th anniversary of his birth.”


Acanthus Conference 2015

21st April 2015

Six delegates from Simpson & Brown attended the annual Acanthus Architects Conference at the weekend. 

The conference, organised by our colleagues at Robert Hutson Architects, was held in Milton Keynes.  As well as catching up with our friends and colleagues from the other Acanthus Architects practices we enjoyed presentations on the re-emergence of the Garden City and what could be learnt from the development of previous New Towns, from the former CEO of Milton Keynes District Council, the Town & Country Planning Association, URBED and Gillespies.  Nicholas Hare Architects also talked about the exciting proposals which are currently being developed for the Museum of Milton Keynes. 

After the presentations we boarded coaches for a tour of the architectural delights of Milton Keynes which included the long boulevards, the Xscape snow centre and (our favourite) the Point, the UK’s first multiplex cinema, which sadly is shortly to be demolished.  There is certainly some interesting architecture out there.

On our way home we stopped at Bletchley Park to visit the Second World War code breaking facility which has recently been restored by Kennedy O’Callaghan Architects and Fairhurst Ward Abbotts.

Our thanks go to the team at Robert Hutson Architects and we’re already looking forward to the 30th conference next year in York.

Images from left: The Church of Christ the Cornerstone through Bernard Schottlander’s 3b Series No.2; The Point by BDP, 1985; The Grade II listed shopping centre

'Build On: Mackintosh' Symposium 2015

20th April 2015

On Friday we attended the 'Build On: Mackintosh' Symposium in the Reid building at the Glasgow School of Art. It was the second symposium, the first of which was held at the 2014 Venice Biennale, to discuss the future of the Art School following the devastating fire last year. We enjoyed an excellent and informative selection of talks and discussions, as well as a very moving short film shot within the Art School by Ross Birell. The film can be viewed in Edinburgh on the 23rd April in the Playfair Library

The day raised perhaps more questions than answers about the methodology of the reconstruction, however one certainty we came away with was how the care and rigour already being applied to the process by PagePark and the Client team meant that the building was in the safest possible hands. 


Eltham Palace Visitor Centre Complete

3rd April 2015

We are pleased to announce that Practical Completion for the new Visitor Centre at Eltham Palace in South East London has been granted.  The English Heritage project formed part of a series of visitor improvement schemes carried out in and around the Grade 1 listed Palace. The fast track contract was completed in six months to coincide with the public launch of the new English Heritage charity.

More information can be found on the project page.


New London Office

24th March 2015

We are pleased to announce our new office at Cowcross Street in London. The building is shared with a number of other like minded practices and organisations and is in the heart of Clerkenwell. The office will help service our growing workload in the South East with projects currently at Eltham Palace, Rye Harbour, Dover Castle, Richborough Roman Fort, Chiswick House, St Albans Cathedral and Kensal Green Cemetery.

Views of Cowcross StreetImages: Alan Baxter Ltd.


Conservation Plan completed for Secretariat Building, Yangon

5th March 2015

Over the past six months, Simpson & Brown in collaboration with Alleya and Associates have been working with the Yangon Heritage Trust and Anawmar Group to produce a comprehensive conservation management plan for the Secretariat Building in the centre of Yangon, Myanmar. This large colonial building (c25,000sqm) was completed in phases by 1905, and was designed by the British architect, Henry Hoyne-Fox. The site still contains a substantial amount of ironwork produced by Walter MacFarlane's Saracen Foundry in Possilpark, Glasgow. We were delighted that the project received publicity in The Herald earlier this year.

Exterior and interior views of the Secretariat Building, Yangon


The Glasgow School of Art - Mackintosh Project

17th October 2014

We have been asked by a number of friends and contacts if we are intending to submit a tender for the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Project. We have decided, after much thought, that we will not be submitting a tender.

We believe that we have considerable experience in working with Charles Rennie Mackintosh buildings. We have also gained a great deal of experience with the repair and restoration of fire-damaged buildings. However, in this instance, we know that another architectural practice, a practice we have a great deal of respect for, and who we enjoy collaborating with on other projects – PagePark  – are both highly experienced and knowledgeable about Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art building. They have worked on it for many years.

Competitive tendering processes are a part of the architectural industry, whether we agree with that or not. However, there are times when we have concerns that it might not always produce the best result for a building that is so special to so many people. Good conservation relies on a thorough understanding of the place, its historical development, its quirks and its charms. Whilst we are sure that whoever succeeds in the tender process will both appreciate and come to fully understand the building, we believe it is best for this building if those who already possess that knowledge are selected to repair it.

Useful links:
Glasgow School of Art -
Mackintosh Architecture -
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society -

Image taken by Luke McKernan of the Glasgow School of Art after the fire
Image: Luke McKernan via Flickr, using Creative Commons licence (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Copper Stills Arrive at Kingsbarns Distillery 

3rd October 2014

The Kingsbarns Distillery and Visitor Centre, located in the East Neuk of Fife celebrated another momentous milestone as the copper pot whisky stills arrived on site last week. Both stills travelled from Rothes, Speyside and have been hand-made by Forsyths of Rothes. The two working stills will form part of the distillery visitor tour opening to the public in December this year.   


Consolidation Works at Penicuik House Completed

5 September 2014

We have recently completed a seven-year project at Penicuik House which stands at the heart of one of the country’s most important 18th century designed landscapes, the Penicuik Estate.  Built in the 1760s by Sir James Clerk and John Baxter, and extended by architect David Bryce in 1857, the house is one of the finest examples of Palladian style buildings in Scotland even though it now stands as a ruin following a fire in 1899 which destroyed the roof and interiors.

The Penicuik House Preservation Trust was established in 1985 with the aim to preserve the ruined house and allow public access to the ruin for the first time in over one hundred years. The Penicuik House Project began on site in 2007 and was completed in summer 2014.

Throughout the seven-year project the contractor, under our direction, has skilfully carried out extensive repairs to the house which has stabilised the ruin and secured the buildings future.  Hundreds of tons of debris which had accumulated on the floor of the ruin have been removed by hand; major walls which were in a dangerous condition have been taken down and rebuilt; and new steel bracing has been fitted where necessary.

Important architectural features of the house, including the pencheck staircases and the impressive masonry arch over the Entrance Hall, have been carefully consolidated and the appearance of the external elevations has been restored by the completion of work to the portico on the north elevation and reinstatement of the original stone urns and balustrades on the wallhead above.

Key elements of the designed landscape have also been restored as part of the project. Three historic footpaths have been repaired and the Chinese Gates, at the end of the Lime Avenue have been reinstated.  The Chinese Bridge rails and the ‘Water Willie’ fountain have also been restored.

The house will be opened to the public as part of Midlothian Doors Open Day on Saturday 13th September 2014.

You can also download the final progress report, which provides further detail on the project [PDF, 1mb].

Images showing the consolidated ruin of Penicuik House


Old College App Launched

2nd July 2014

Addyman Archaeology are delighted to announce the publication of a new App called ‘The University of Edinburgh, Old College: A Window on the Past’.  Commissioned by The University of Edinburgh and developed in partnership with Luma 3d Interactive Ltd, this interactive app charts the history, archaeology and architecture of The University of Edinburgh, centred on the Old College Quad site. The app presents a 3-dimensional visualisation based upon extensive recent archaeological excavations and a broad range of historical and early visual sources.

Addyman Archaeology were heavily involved in the re-development of the Quad from 2010 to 2011.  The archaeological works associated with the project involved a large scale archaeological excavation which uncovered significant remains relating to the history of the University.  Alongside features pre-dating the University, many of the structures which made up the University of Edinburgh from the 16th to the 18th centuries were revealed, providing important information as to their structure and development.  Notable discoveries include 44 burials associated with the medieval Kirk O’ Fields, the predecessor to the University on the site; and early chemistry apparatus thought to have belonged to the renowned Enlightenment Chemist Joseph Black.

Available from the App Store, the app provides the opportunity to learn more about the history of Edinburgh University by using the interactive time slider to chart the evolution, history and architectural development of this complex site over 800 years. Download it here.


IHBC Annual School 2014 - Edinburgh

15th May 2014

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation is holding its annual school - on the theme The Art of Conservation - in Edinburgh this year from Thursday 5th to Saturday 7th June. For more information, download their flier, or visit

IHBC Annual School 2014


Hawklaw Listening Station Proposals

7th May 2014

We have been working on proposals for the conversion of the former Hawklaw Listening Station, near Cupar in Fife, to a new family home with new-build semi-detached holiday rental accommodation. Although the site is not listed, it is considered to be important as a survival of a site used for World War II and post-War intelligence gathering. It was operational from 1942 until 1988, but has been on the Buildings at Risk Register since 2007. The proposals are currently being presented to a number of local and national groups for comment.

Proposals for the former Hawklaw Listening Station


National Gallery of Scotland Project

1st May 2014

Simpson & Brown are part of the team led by Gareth Hoskins Architects who have won a competitive bid to work on an exciting new project on behalf of National Galleries Scotland. Simpson & Brown's conservation-accredited architects and buildings specialists will be working with the wider architectural team to advise on alterations to the category A listed National Gallery building. Having been involved with both this and the Royal Scottish Academy building for a number of years, we are delighted to be continuing our relationship with this key Edinburgh site. Our Heritage Consultancy team will also be providing crucial information about the historical development of the site, and will produce a conservation plan to assist the wider project.  More information about the proposals will be revealed later in the year.

Simpson & Brown have been involved with National Gallery building since the early 1980s when we designed an exhibition interior for the Scottish collection. We also installed and reinstated carefully detailed railings and gates to both this and the Royal Scottish Academy building. In more recent years, we have also introduced a number of sensitively designed ramps and railings to assist access to both buildings. In 2000, we wrote a conservation plan for the Royal Scottish Academy building, which will be updated and expanded as part of the current project.


Addyman Archaeology at Dunbar Science Festival

2nd April 2014

Addyman Archaeology together with East Lothian Council Archaeology Service, Archaeology Scotland and Rubicon Heritage had a stand at Dunbar Science Fest.  Activities included trying to solve puzzles looking at pollen,  looking at how tree rings help us date buildings, Otzi the ice man and what archaeo-science has told us about him, and "Whose Poo?": how we can find out about the past from what we find in waste, including human waste. 

The "Whose Poo?" activity was by far the most popular with the children, they got to excavate pretend poo and date it from the seeds fish bones etc inside.  The adults were really interested in the timbers from a building in Jedburgh that had been dated to 1670 using tree rings. The weekend was great fun and a big thank you to all those who came along.  We hope to be at another Science Festival in the autumn, so watch this space.

Addyman Archaeology at the Dunbar Science Festival


Letter re. proposed North Canongate development

13th March 2014

James Simpson was one of the signatories to a letter sent to The Scotsman, and printed in yesterday's edition.  A PDF of the letter can be downloaded here.


13th Century Graffiti Discovered

19th February 2014

Our Archaeologists have recently discovered graffiti scratched into the plastered walls of the sealed-up mural chamber of 700-year old Mingary Castle in Argyll. Markings were discovered incised into the freshly applied plaster in a number of areas of its walls.  Though difficult to decipher it is possible that the marks include lettering and what may be an image of a ship. At another point the initials ‘WS’ were carved in to stonework; this looks to be of much later date, perhaps of the 16th or 17th century, and likely to be related to one of the sieges of that period. We are hoping that further research will reveal more detail about the origin and meaning of the historic graffiti.


Orkney Home Nears Completion

13th January 2014

One of our most remote projects is nearing completion on the Island of Egilsay. The derelict 17th Century Lairds House was on the Buildings at Risk Register before being purchased by the current owners in 2009. The building has been carefully restored over the last two years to become a family home. Work is due to complete next month.


Kirk Ness Excavation Published

18 December 2013

From 1999 to 2006 Addyman Archaeology carried out an extensive archaeological excavation project in North Berwick on the peninsular site of Kirk Ness, the medieval church of the parish of North Berwick. The work formed part of the Simpson & Brown-designed Scottish Seabird Centre project which now occupies the peninsular site in Berwick. The findings have now been published by Oxbow Books - you can purchase direct from the publisher at a discounted price, as well as from bookshops or Amazon.

Kirk Ness Excavation Publication images


The Fight to Save Perth City Hall Continues

5 December 2013

The Perth City Market Trust and The Prince's Regeneration Trust have issued a press release regarding Perth City Hall [.docx Word file, 0.8mb]


Awards Success for the Chapel

22 November 2013

We are pleased to announce that the Chapel of St Albert the Great has won Interior of the Year at the 2013 Timber in Construction Awards. The awards, run by Timber in Construction Magazine, celebrate projects of all scales across the United Kingdom that excel in the use of timber.


Great S&B Bake Off

19 November 2013

The Great S&B Bake Off reached new heights today with a beautiful scale gingerbread model of the Simpson & Brown designed Irving Memorial Chapel in Canada, complete with illuminated stained glass windows! Congratulations to this month's winner Julia Ng.


Shambellie House

22 October 2013

Shambellie House is a category B-listed small country house in Dumfries & Galloway designed by David Bryce. Built in the 1850s, the building was, until recently, the National Museum of Costume.  Since the decision to close the museum, we have been working with the Prince's Regeneration Trust to find a new use for the building. The new use must respect the character of the building and should ideally continue to provide economic benefits for the local community.

South east elevation of Shambellie House


Doors Open Day

28th September 2013

On Saturday we welcomed over 250 visitors through the doors of St. Ninian’s as part of the Edinburgh Doors Open Day event organised by the Cockburn Association. Our Historians, Tom and Nicholas, carried out tours of the exterior whilst James Simpson gave talks inside about the history of the building, how it was originally constructed and our involvement in the restoration project during the 1990s. 


Stephen Lawrence Prize Shortlist for Chapel

10th Septmber 2013

The Chapel of St. Albert The Great has been nominated the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize. The prize rewards the best examples of projects that have a construction budget of less than £1 million. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on the 28th September.


Botanic Cottage Receives Planning Permission

28th August 2013

Proposals to rebuild the 18th century Botanic Cottage within the grounds of The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, so creating a state-of-the-art educational and community facility, have taken a major stride forward. News that the Garden has received planning permission to rebuild the Botanic Cottage, its original centre of learning, within the Garden means fund raising efforts can also be stepped-up a gear. The ultimate goal is to see the Cottage start welcoming its 21st century students within two years.


Siege Cannonball discovered at Mingary Castle

27th August 2013

Addyman Archaeology have discovered a cannon ball embedded into the walls at Mingary Castle. It is believed to have been fired over 350 years ago from a ship during a famous siege of the castle in 1644. The well preserved castle near the most westerly point of the British Isles is being excavated by the practice prior to being developed into a new modern home. More information on the project can be found in the Mingary Castle Blog.

Image by Jon Haylett