Scotframe Plays its Part in New Life of Mull Theatre
No fuss, no drama. This may be an unusual request from a theatre company, but when it came to building its new production centre, it’s exactly what Mull Theatre wanted.
The project needed a bespoke architectural design that was able to house a rehearsal stage, a set building workshop, a costume room and administration facilities.
Situated in the isolated and often wild climes of Mull, the building also needed to be erected quickly and thermally engineered to the high regulatory standards that will see it cope with whatever weather the island has to throw at it.
Then there were the constraints of time and money that come with most projects and the unique set of logistical challenges that building on Mull carries. Transport to the island is limited, the weather can be tricky and skills and labour are not always readily to hand. All in all it was a real challenge.
Having decided that a timber frame construction would be easier to transport and offered the best value for money, Scotframe Timber Engineering worked with City Architects Office of Edinburgh and construction firm TSL Contractors of Oban to have the kit built to specification and delivered to Mull.
“Initial designs had looked at a concrete and steel construction,” said Tony Cox, associate director at Mull Theatre. “When costs and transport issues were taken into account it became apparent that a timber frame was going to be a much better option.”
The contractors arrived on site in August last year, and after preparatory work had been completed, the timber frame arrived in October. By the end of May this year, the building was ready for Mull Theatre to move into, excepting the need for some snagging and internal furnishings to be completed.
"From the unique design of the building to the unusual transport and isolated location factors, this project is a real showcase for the flexibility that timber frame construction offers," said Peter Hall, marketing manger at Scotframe.
Although the majority of the work carried out by Scotframe is in the residential market, Peter said that commercial projects like this account for between 5% and 7% of the frames it manufactures between its Inverurie and Cumbernauld sites each year.
In all, £700,000 was spent on the construction of the new production centre. A further £150,000 was spent on professional fees and site clearance.
Getting the look and feel of the building correct was essential. Mull is a rural and unspoilt backdrop and while the theatre company has an established heritage it also has a very forward thinking and modern attitude. Something that incorporated both of these slants was required.
“From a company that used to produce shows for the local market, we are now more focused on touring across Scotland, and in particular the Highlands and Islands,” says Tony Cox.
The world’s smallest professional theatre
Listed in the past by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest professional theatre it is now, arguably, Scotland’s leading touring company.
As a production, rehearsal and administration centre the new building serves many different functions. It can now take audiences of 75 and that will grow to 100 when the permanent seating frames are introduced. Having a specifically designed building that meets all of these needs will be, it is hoped, the basis of Mull Theatre’s continued success.
When costs and transport issues were taken into account it became apparent that a timber frame was going to be a much better option.
Tony Cox, associate director at Mull Theatre.