Raining's Stairs by Trail Architects
The Raining’s Stairs development reinvigorated an important part of Inverness; replacing a long-vacant ‘problem’ site with a building of architectural quality and profound, transformational benefits to the community.
The building, comprising 16 affordable housing units and a small commercial unit, was completed in October 2018.
Despite the challenging nature of the very constrained site, there is a 27m level change, a local developer, Ark Estates, worked closely with The Highland Council, Highland Housing Alliance, Trail Architects and William Gray Construction to unlock the site.
The design integrates with the existing stairs to enhance connections to the unique history of the site, stitching the development into the city. The massing is based on traditional pitched-roof forms, sitting comfortably alongside neighbouring buildings, particularly when viewed from the Castle.
Crucially, off-site construction and prefabrication simplified the construction programme and resolved the slope and limited access issues. The design utilised lightweight cladding materials, creating a sharp, attractive façade which was quick to install.
Improved lighting and passive surveillance from the building to the historic Stairs have created a safer environment, having been a source of anti-social behaviour this is now an important part of the city’s public realm.
The response has been extremely positive and shows how a committed group of clients, contractors, and designers can work together to create something which is truly transformative.
“An impressive achievement on what is evidently a challenging site in terms of topography, location and history. Delightful homes and places have been created. Some of the details appear a little clunky - but overall this looks like a joyful place to live.”
“Raining's Stairs is an ingenious provision of affordable housing that looks like nothing of the sort. Overcoming the difficulty of the steeply sloping site, the scheme uses the complex topography to its advantage orchestrating thresholds between public and private, and creating an ensemble of forms perched naturally on the hillside.”