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After recently winning both RIAS (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) and RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) awards for architectural excellence, Mareel is now being considered for the Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award and made it on to the mid list for RIBA's top award, the Stirling Prize.

The Andrew Doolan Award was founded in 2002 by renowned architect Andrew Doolan and is given to the best new building in Scotland, as judged by a jury of assessors. The value of the prize is £25,000, making it the largest prize for architecture in the UK. The Stirling Prize is named after James Stirling, the great British architect who died in 1992. The winning architects earn national prestige and a £20,000 cash prize.

Managed by Shetland Arts Development Agency, the leading arts agency in Shetland, Mareel is the UK’s most northerly music, cinema and creative industries centre.

The building, designed by Gareth Hoskins Architects, is situated in a prominent quayside area in Lerwick, adjacent to the Shetland Museum and Archives and incorporates: a live performance auditorium, two cinema screens, rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, education and training spaces, a digital media production suite, broadcast facilities and a cafe bar with free, high speed wi-fi internet access.

Providing a year round programme of film, live music, education and other events, Mareel is a hub and a focus for the creative communities not just in Shetland but beyond, and a catalyst for the creative industry sector in Shetland.

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Mareel. Photo by Phatsheep Photography.

Gwilym Gibbons, Director of Shetland Arts said: "I and the Board of Shetland Arts are delighted that Mareel is recognised as one of Europe's best buildings by the RIAS and RIBA judges. I would like to pass on my thanks to all that contributed to the building of Mareel not least our lead architects Gareth Hoskins Architects and executive architects Shetland based PJP Architects, our contractor Shetland based DITT Construction Ltd and all the contributing funders: Shetland Islands Council, Scottish Government European Regional Development Fund, Creative Scotland Lottery Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Gannochy Trust.

“I believe that Mareel is a very special building: a tribute to the design is the speed and the way in which people have made Mareel their new creative home. Mareel has one of the best attended cinemas in the UK, a busy recording studio linked to the main auditorium with a sought after acoustic quality that has led artists to choose Shetland over other studios in the UK. The venue also houses the delivery of further and higher education courses and a broad range of live music performed on the Mareel stage regularly live streamed to the world through our in house broadcast partner 60 North TV. It has become a buzzing creative hub with a busy cafe bar which doubles up as an important social and business meeting point.”

Gwilym added: "In the end it is the way that people use a building when it opens its doors that really matters: how people feel, young or old; how they move from space to space; and how they make it their place. I loved the way our early adopters in just a matter of days commented on how they felt the building had always been there, and how they couldn't imagine Shetland without Mareel. I think this really demonstrates the qualities of a building to engage people.

“Acting as the Client on a large capital arts project is a rare privilege and no easy task. Pressures challenge the interpretation and execution of vision and purpose on an almost daily basis. It is the translation of vision and clarity of purpose into final designs carried through over years into construction and to final completion that creates places that people really love and enjoy. It was a brave and bold undertaking for all involved, particularly in the face of our difficult financial times. The result however is Mareel a huge cultural asset, an asset that has value far beyond Shetland shores and for generations to come".

The winner of both awards will be announced later this year.

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