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, 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 in to 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 pre-fabrication 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.