Ahrends, Burton & Koralek, 1975-1983. Ove Arup & Partners (Structural and Building Services Engineers). Landesign Group (Landscape Architects). Extensive single storey former diesel engine manufacturing plant, incorporating earlier 20th century textile mill. Site slopes from N to S; building cut into existing landscape to form new flat floor area. Steel-framed construction; corrugated metal; reinforced concrete; tubular steel; extensive roof glazing. 3 covered corrugated metal and concrete walkways at 1st floor to N, leading to raised rear car park; painted metal spiral fire escape stairs to S; tubular metal V-shaped trusses, framing splayed V-plan glazed and
corrugated metal elevations to SE and N. L-plan former boiler house to NW with large yellow-painted crushed-coal silo and triple chimney stack. All set within a designed landscape, sunken in part at factory level with various pyramidal shaped hills using excavated material to form screening and shelter belt at the eastern perimeter. Distinctive use of primary colours, coding individual units to interior and exterior.
S ELEVATION: 4 wide, advanced and receding single storey blocks divided by 3 long raised linear plant rooms with large circular vents set at regular intervals. Saw-toothed profiled former textile manufacturing block to far left, re-clad in corrugated metal and re-glazed (offices, assembly, testing and shipping). Corrugated metal hood framing double height, glazed main entrance. Plain rectangular corrugated metal block with 4 low pitched roofs (former stores) to right (later service entrance extension to re-entrant angle). 2 steel-framed blocks to far right with corrugated metal V-plan glazing with tubular steel trusses configured in V-shaped profile (planned as machining and receiving areas).
E ELEVATION: large service doors to slightly splayed elevation; 6 slightly overhanging triangular canopies at roof level supported by upright tubular steel trusses. BOILER HOUSE AND ENTRANCE GATES: 6-bay, L-plan reconfigured former boiler house, corrugated metal canopied units; large yellow-painted crushed-oil silo and 3 tall thin stacks. Red-painted Tubular and lattice 2-panel metal gates with circular metal motif to centre at W and E entrances.
INTERIOR: approximately 50,000 square meters. Built in 5 main units along E-W axis to accommodate specific production flow for the manufacturing HP diesel engines. Originally commencing in the receiving and testing department to E, then through to machining, storage, assembly, testing and finally to shipping to the W section of the building. Roof structure designed for lifting of heavy loads, with secondary beams forming level plane below triangular primary trusses and tubular steel work. These trusses also form routes for service distribution and incorporate zones of roof glazing. Upper level amenity deck including kitchen, canteen and medical centre to centre of plan positioned to overlook the assembly area; offices to SW. Double-height reception area; square-plan concrete pillars; large tubular overhead ducts. Various exposed services throughout building, painted yellow, but also green or purple. Distinctive reinforced concrete V-shaped beams and columns to former canteen. Reconfigured and extended sealed diesel engine testing cells to NW of plan.
N ELEVATION: 4 wide, stepped single storey blocks divided by 3 raised covered walkways at regular intervals leading to car park at upper level of site; circular louvered openings to walkways. 3 Steel-framed blocks to far left, corrugated metal V-plan glazing with tubular steel trusses configured in V-shaped profile.
W ELEVATION: long plain corrugated metal section to right; short recessed section to far left (former shipping area).
Statement of Special Interest
The building is considered to be one of most significant and important examples of large industrial buildings in later 20th century Britain and is ABK's principal work of the 1970s in the United Kingdom. The former Cummins plant is a notable example of the emphasis of design in industry during this period, revitalising the concept of the usual industrial shed. It is recognised as a model of Rationalist/ Functionalist Modern architecture. The building was designed through a lengthy and considered consultation process between client, employees, the Scottish Development Agency, engineers and architects, resulting in possibly Scotland's only ergonomic factory building. The building was designed in the collaborative spirit of contemporary industrial building projects such as for Volvo in Sweden, but is wholly unique in form and specific to the production of diesel engines, embodying the earlier disparate forms of the existing buildings into a new unified whole. Through this collaboration, the architects gained detailed knowledge of all aspects of production and created a sense of investment and participation of the workforce. For example, the elevated access gangways provide direct and safe access to the building and to specific areas such as lockers and toilets serving adjacent work areas. At Shotts, the architects achieved visual excellence with innovation in the steelwork and economy in energy consumption. The various elements of the building are well- integrated, combining the original factory with the new units through the uniformity of cladding and
well-designed people-oriented interface zones.
The US based Cummins Engine Co Ltd (of Columbus, Indiana) was recognised as an enlightened client and had previously commissioned high profile architects to provide creative design solutions to otherwise functional buildings. The US architectural practice Roche and Dinkeloo were responsible for the recently listed Cummins's Component Plant in Darlington, England of 1966-1967. Kevin Roche recommended Ahrends Burton & Koralek to Cummins in late 1975 when the company required additional office space to be added on to their existing building in Shotts, a former textile mill converted for the company's purposes in 1956. The plant at Shotts was the first of Cummins's manufacturing facilities to be established outside the USA and provided diesel engines mainly to coach and railway companies. Peter Ahrends of A B & K first suggested to Cummins that his practice provide a development plan for the site taking into account possible manufacturing expansion and new production techniques. The entire redevelopment of the site was agreed and Peter Ahrends, Paul Koralek and Paul Drake provided the strategic general arrangement. Paul Drake became project director and he and Ahrends worked together on the design, in close collaboration with Ove Arup & Partners and James Hope of Landesign Group, Broxburn, until completion in 1983. Cummins Engine Co Ltd terminated its lease in Shotts in 1998.
Ahrends, Burton and Koralek have had a central role in British architecture since the early 1960s and by the 1970s were critically acclaimed as one of the most creative and versatile of Britain's younger architectural practices. Established since the late 1950s, Ahrends, Burton & Koralek have garnered several awards and a number of their buildings in England and Ireland have received statutory listing. These listed buildings include the Berkeley Library, Trinity College, Dublin; Chichester Theological College, Chichester; Templeton College, Oxford; Keble College, Oxford; Maidenhead Library, Maidenhead.