The Dalkeith Corn Exchange, recently renovated and reopened by Melville Housing Association, has won a prestigious award from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
In recognition for the work done by Melville and its partners, the Grade A listed building picked up the Historic Environment Scotland Award for Conservation and Climate Change at the 2017 RIAS Awards, following its restoration and return to public use.
“We’re proud of the work that has gone into bringing the Corn Exchange back to life and we’re delighted to have received this award,” said Melville Chief Executive Andrew Noble.
“This building has enormous historical and social significance and it was terrible to see it falling into disrepair. The restoration project wasn’t always smooth, as you might expect when dealing with a 160 year old structure, but it was worth it in the end. Melville now has a new office that is better for both customers and staff, Dalkeith has a new museum, and a hugely significant Midlothian landmark has been brought back to life.”
The RIAS award is the second that the Corn Exchange has picked up in the past few months following a commendation at the 2017 Civic Trust Awards, which recognise outstanding architecture, planning and design in the built environment.
Alongside the overall restoration work, the recent awards also recognise the efforts made by Melville to reduce its carbon footprint with designs for the building, drawn up by Michael Laird Architects, including solar energy, ground source heating and a charging station for electric vehicles.
These new, greener facilities benefit not just Melville Housing, but also the new permanent museum for Dalkeith (managed by Dalkeith History Society), commercial offices currently occupied by Shepherd Chartered Surveyors and the community through the meeting facilities which are available to businesses and community groups alike.
Once the largest indoor grain market in Scotland, the Corn Exchange dates back to 1854 and has played a key part in Midlothian life. It has hosted balls, banquets, concerts, exhibitions and political meetings featuring several British prime ministers including William Gladstone and Winston Churchill. It has also been used as a roller-skating venue, cinema, theatre and, in the 1940s and 1950s, the Empress Ballroom, a popular dance hall.