Faithlie Centre

Moxon Architects Ltd
with Alan S Marshall Conservation Architect

Located at the far northeast corner of Aberdeenshire, the major fishing port of Fraserburgh is characterised by sheer sided fish processing sheds ranked up against the handsome masonry architecture of its 19th Century heyday. In the harbour, the vivid technicolour of the North Sea fishing fleet can be seen moored alongside robust 20th Century public housing and the oxidising paraphernalia of a thriving maritime industry – Fraserburgh and its larger neighbour Peterhead together account for over 65% of fish landings by UK vessels. Just inland from the harbour Saltoun Square has long been the focus of community life in the town, the civic heart of which; 1 Saltoun Square; has now been renovated and extended as part of the ambitious Fraserburgh 2021 regeneration project funded jointly by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and client Aberdeenshire Council.

As a crucial anchor within the Town Centre Conservation Area, the Category B Listed 1 Saltoun Square has been extensively restored and simultaneously expanded into the adjacent and formerly dilapidated police station, significantly increasing capacity. A third component, a new build extension to the rear, performs the function of binding these two existing buildings together, serving as both a means of unencumbered access to all levels and a new ‘front of house’ to council services. Vertical and horizontal circulation, meeting accommodation for public and council use and a range of supporting facilities are incorporated into the extension, relieving pressure on the existing buildings and allowing them to become more efficient and welcoming to the community. The combined complex of buildings has become the Faithlie Centre; after the original Scots name of the town; bringing together the Council Chamber, Public Service Point, Housing and Financial Services, Registrar’s Office and dedicated interview rooms into one accessible facility. In addition, a community enterprise suite has been incorporated into the building – providing a much-needed resource for start-up companies in support of local economic diversification.

Unusually for a civic building in the town, 1 Saltoun Square was built from sandstone. Intended as a demonstration of refinement and permitting a finer grain of modelling than the granite employed on the adjacent police station, the sandstone has nevertheless faired badly in the harsh maritime environment, with many of the mouldings having lost definition over the course of the last century and a half. Through precise and methodical conservation work the worst affected sandstone blocks have been catalogued, drawn and replaced with matching stone from the Spynie Quarry in Elgin. The same care and attention to provenance and detail has been employed on the restoration of the building’s prominent rotunda, statuary and external joinery. The interior of the building has been repaired where the original fabric remained or else stripped back to the masonry where compromised beyond salvage. New and restored interior linings and details have been finished uniformly in white, emphasising the delicacy of restored mouldings and original patterned lincrusta wall coverings.

The new extension forms a bold rectilinear volume to the rear of the existing buildings. Set back from the east gable of the Police Station to North Braeheads and indented to the rear of Saltoun Chambers, the extension forms a shallow ‘L’ with the rear of the terraced buildings to Saltoun Square.

By remaining invisible from both Saltoun Square and Kirk Brae the extension simultaneously enlivens the outlook of social housing in the North Braeheads area while respecting the pre-eminence of the original buildings and their already high-quality contribution to the urban environment. The stepped arrangement provides a generous and well-appointed vertical circulation ‘tower’ that includes meeting spaces on all three levels alongside a slimline two storey link section that connects the new vertical circulation into the rear of 1 Saltoun Square. 

Although materially distinct from the original buildings; principally through the use of large format weathering steel plate; the rear elevation of the existing fabric is visible within and through the new extension. The extension is intended to be understood as a durable but largely permeable structure set against the massive construction typology of the existing buildings. Crucially, the extension addresses both the harbour area that can be seen from the top of the building; providing a direct material reference in terms of colour, texture and pattern to the defining industry of the town; and the public housing of North Braeheads for which it provides a newly active frontage, enlivened by the movement of building users and the layering of reflection, shadow and light.





Structural Engineer

David Narro

M&E Engineer


Health and Safety

GWS Architects

Main Contractor


Gross Internal Area


Contract Value


The RIAS 2020 Shortlist