Arts & Culture \ Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries

In 2007 Richard Murphy Architects won a competition organized by Fife Council and the RIAS for a major new cultural centre in the historic centre of Dunfermline. The brief envisaged a museum space, art galleries, local history archive and reading room, childrens’ centre, café and meeting rooms lying alongside, and integrating with, the world’s first Andrew Carnegie Library, a Grade B listed building. A Grade B listed former bank building was also part of the site.

The competition design organized the new building along a new top lit street with a journey to all the facilities criss-crossing the street on bridges to the top of the building. The entrance proposed hinging a giant slice of the former bank façade to form the new entrance and although welcomed by everyone as a very exciting and innovatory way off entering the otherwise landlocked site Historic Scotland refused to consider the idea.

Eventually the Council were able to purchase an adjacent car-park and this we proposed to convert into a walled garden which in turn leads to a new entrance courtyard off this garden. Our garden design merges with the mediaeval garden at the rear of the adjacent Abbott’s House Museum and includes two sculptures from Burns’ Tam O’Shanter and also a small maze.

The revised design maintains a top-lit internal street as its organizing device. There are three main new spaces. At the lower level is a major new facility for the research and study of local history and its archive organized on a tiered section looking out at the Abbey. The new library facilities for children is also at this level and opens directly onto a lawn and external auditorium. The café is on the first floor with terraces looking out onto the Abbey and graveyard and above this on the same level are the double level museum and the three exhibition galleries. The circulation system is an ‘architectural promenade’ culminating in these facilities but also continuing back into the main building and allowing access to two main existing spaces in the library, the Murison Burns Room which becomes a meeting / function space and the adjacent reference library which will become an activity and lecture space.

Externally, the materials are a combination of stone, oak and corten steel. The latter is to designate the fact that a majority of the museum displays the industrial heritage of the town. A major feature of the museum itself, which has been designed in collaboration with Redman Design, is that there are internal framed views of significant nearby historic buildings.

The project opened to the public in May 2017 and has subsequently won an RIAS 2017 Award and the RIAS Best Building in Scotland Award 2017.

Architects  Richard Murphy, Bill Black, Matt Bremner, Kris Grant, Brian Tobin, Martin Lambie, Alex Thurman
Engineers  AECOM
M&E Engineers  RYBKA
Quantity Surveyor  RLB (Rider Levett Bucknall)
Exhibition Designer  Redman Design Ltd
Construction Cost  £9m
Size  Extension: 2305m² Existing building: 1137m²
Contractor  Bam
Client  Fife Cultural Trust


2017 EAA Large Project Award
2017 EAA Building of the Year
2017 RIAS Award
2017 RIBA Award
2018 RICS Community Benefit Award
2018 Civic Trust Award Commendation


7 September 2017 New Chapter as Dunfermline's Carnegie Library & Galleries is officially opened Dunfermline Press
September 2017 Carnegie Library Steps into the New Century Scottish Life
July 2017 Word on the Street Urban Realm
July 2017 Bodies in the Library RIBA Journal
June 2017 Step Inside Scotland's new Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries
15 June 2017 Dunfermline Carnegie Library wins double architecture award - RIAS Best Building & Client of the Year Awards The Scotsman
June 2017 Cast of Culture Project Scotland
June 2017 Material Gains - Dunfermline's Carnegie Library & Galleries Architecture Today
18 May 2017 Visitors Flock to Dunfermline's new Museum Dunfermline Press
17 May 2017 It is a project that has transformed the home of the world's first Andrew Carnegie Library into Scotland's newest architectural landmark.... The Scotsman
1 May 2017 An Audience with Richard Murphy at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries for a personal insight into the project Fife Avocado Sweet
20 April 2017 Dunfermline Carnegie Library named Edinburgh Architectural Association Building of the Year The Scotsman
4 April 2017 Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries gear up for public unveil Urban Realm
23 February 2017 Applause for Dunfermline's new £12 million cultural hub Dunfermline Courier
9 December 2016 Dunfermine gallery and library space previewed ahead of Spring opening Urban Realm
22 June 2016 Project Team Delivering Museum Dunfermline Deserves The Courier
14 February 2014 Dunfermline Museum & Art Gallery to move on site Urban Realm
1 July 2012 New Plan gets nod Project Scotland
11 June 2012 Richard Murphy Architects submits Dunfermline Arts Centre for Planning Building Design
1 March 2011 New Life For An Ancient Burgh Scottish Life
22 November 2010 Home To Scotland's First Kings - Now £10m Museum To Be Town's New Crowning Glory
1 August 2007 Clever Murphy Lands Dunfermline Museum Project Scotland
24 July 2007 Museum Planned For Dunfermline Leisure Opportunities
20 July 2007 Development Of The Bruce's Town Hinges On Innovative Museum Design The Scotsman
20 July 2007 Verona Comes To Dunfermline Museum Building Design
20 July 2007 Richard Murphy Takes Dunfermline Museum Builder & Engineer Online
19 July 2007 Firm Picked To Work Up Designs For City Museum Dunfermline Press
18 July 2007 Richard Murphy Bags Dunfermline Museum Architects' Journal
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