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Stories behind Inverness buildings revealed

By Val Sweeney

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Inverness architect Calum Maclean. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Inverness architect Calum Maclean. Picture: Callum Mackay.

THE hidden stories behind the historic buildings of Inverness have been revealed in a new book by a city conservation architect.

Architecture of Inverness by Calum Maclean is described as a detective adventure, revealing the clues of the city’s stories from the rise and fall of merchant princes to clan chiefs.

His aim is to trace the evolution of people, place, and identity by highlighting the buildings of the Highland capital, which has engaged with intellectual, economic and political ideas throughout its history to shape and control its own destiny – and was once a centre for regional power rivalling Edinburgh.

“Inverness has a unique and remarkable story that has been waiting to be discovered,” Mr Maclean said.

“We have a wonderful collection of buildings from every period in history.

“Most people are familiar with the story of one or two historic buildings that are fascinating in their own right but when you bring them all together, the stories take on a whole new dimension.”

The book contains details of more than 200 buildings which reveal the evolution of ideas and architectural form leading from one building to the next, explaining how one building informed the development of another, or where events forced a sudden change in direction sometimes with unexpected consequences.

The Kitchen restaurant.
The Kitchen restaurant.

He reveals renaissance mansions, Parisian boulevards, white cubist villas from the 1930s inspired by the Bauhaus and Russian constructivist turbine halls.

He also highlights “flashes of brilliance” such as the Queensgate development by Alexander Ross and the Arts and Crafts elegance of Rossal in Island Bank Road by WL Carruthers, as well as including less successful buildings from the 1970s-90s in order to present an honest and complete account.

“If anything, these buildings provide a bit of grit that helps to throw the qualities of the more contemporary work into sharper relief,” he said.

The hardback book has been supported by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland which has previously produced illustrated architectural guides covering various regions of Scotland.

The Architecture of Inverness.
The Architecture of Inverness.

It has also received support from the Inverness Common Good Fund, Inverness City Heritage Trust, Inverness Architectural Association and Historic Environment Scotland.

It costs £39 and can be bought online at www.invernessarchitecture.com and on Amazon. It comes with an app which can be downloaded to a smartphone and used with GPS to give details about nearby buildings.

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