The Swan Takes Flight!

Posted 21 August 2020 by Bruach Architects

In 2017 we were selected through a competitive tender process by People United for Banton to consider the feasibility of redeveloping the local village pub to create a community hub including a café, restaurant, shop and bar. We quickly got into surveying the building and arranging community consultation events to hear what everyone wanted from their new building. The feedback was pretty consistent about the facilities the building should have, how it could help the widest range of local people and visitors, and how it should look and feel. The most interesting feedback definitely came from the village primary school! No doubt some of the children will be disappointed that we didn’t manage to get in the bouncy castle or giant slides, but there is a sweet shop which scored high on their list of requirements!

We took all of the suggestions and worked closely with the small core group of volunteers pushing to deliver the project on behalf of the community to shape them into the best solution. Having considered all of the options, the final proposal was presented back to the village at a public meeting and met with massive enthusiasm. There was overwhelming support to bring new life to the old and much-loved building at the heart of the village, and having secured funding from the Big Lottery, Scottish Land Fund, Kelvin Valley Leader and others, the initial appraisal quickly turned into a full project. The project was also featured on the BBC and STV news, and in the Herald newspaper.

With the design concept agreed, worked progressed to secure the required Planning and Building Warrant consents, where we worked closely with others in our team – civil and structural engineers Forward Consulting Engineers, services engineers Hoare Lea, and quantity surveyors JMP Construction and Property Consultants – to pull together the detailed design and tender information. Following a tender process and contractor selection, work began on site in 2019 with main contractor Premier Construction Projects, who adeptly handled and dealt with the interesting and unexpected challenges the 150 year old building threw up!

The community remained heavily involved in the construction process with regular updates from the team, and organised visits around the site to see how things were progressing. We do think that project clerk of works Site Inspection Services had to be on top form when the most observant and questioning guests visited the site from the local primary school! The children were able to safely see what was happening, with Premier ensuring they were all part of the community building by inviting them to write messages in the walls before they were finished with the final layers.

We tried hard to keep the character and style of the original traditional building as much as possible, and externally stayed true to the white render finish with new slate roof. The village of Banton also once had a brickworks, and a number of “Banton Bricks” were donated by local people to form a tribute to this local historic industry. As you enter the building, a feature wall welcomes visitors proudly displaying the historic connection. Supporters of the project and local people were also able to literally become part of the works, with engraved paviours forming the main access to the building, reminding everyone of the string community links.

Internally the colour scheme and finishes were chosen to be light, bright and natural, using wood, stone and slate themes throughout, as the community requested at our early consultation. Finished were chosen to be hard wearing, easy to clean and maintain, and to allow for local photographs and mementos to decorate the walls. The transformation from the original is quite remarkable and has drawn many gasps and even tears from those who have fond memories of the important village landmark.

The challenge of coronavirus inevitably took its toll on the project, as it has done on so many things this year, and with only weeks to the handover date the site had to close in accordance with government guidelines. With work now complete, this has not put a damper on the excitement for the re-opening, and since the phone lines have been live for bookings they have rung off the hook! This weekend is the first official opening to the public, and bookings are now being taken by phone or through the website –

It has been a real pleasure to be the architects for this important community project, we have loved getting to know everyone in the village and hope the building can provide another 150 years at the centre of village life!


Completed photos by Chris Radley Photography

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Bruach Architects is an RIAS Chartered Practice (The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) and our architects are registered to practice using the title Architect through the Architects Registration Board (ARB). We are also Chartered Members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and our team has a combined experience of over 30 years working in the profession. Please send us an enquiry here where one of our team will be back in touch with you as soon as possible to discuss your project, and to provide additional information on the process of commissioning an architect.