Leading international infrastructure group Balfour Beatty has been awarded the contract for the First Stage of the Scottish Prison Service’s (SPS) project for the Design and Construction of HMP Highland, designed by the design, engineering and project delivery company, BakerHicks.

This marks a milestone in the SPS’ plans to deliver a modern, fit-for-purpose replacement for HMP Inverness.

The first new prison in the Scottish Highlands for more than a century, HMP Highland will serve the Highlands, Islands and Moray areas, holding up to 200 offenders in purposely designed accommodation units.

The SPS mission is to transform the lives of people in their care so they can fulfil their potential and become responsible citizens. The new prison represents a step-change in prison design and service delivery for the Highlands and has been developed taking full consideration of Highland Council’s Sustainable Design Guide. It is also designed to be community facing; to be physically part of the community and help offenders reintegrate back into the local communities from which they came.

The strategic aims of the prison include delivery of a range of innovative practices in order to stimulate, promote and sustain cultural change within a custodial environment that is more humane, civilised and positively supports offender rehabilitation, reducing recidivism. The prison will build upon the existing community links of HMP Inverness and enable improved service delivery, whilst also improving the experience of visitors to the prison.

Architecturally, the entrance building takes the form of a central roundhouse with an integrated family centre as a focal point for visitors; historically roundhouses were used by communities not only as homes but as places of work and for communities to come together in. The main building reflects the flow of the River Ness and the colours of the Highland scenery. The long winding wave building form through the site means that, from street level, the building can never be viewed in its entirety and is not visibly institutional or custodial in the architectural concept or design of the public facing elements. Internally the focus has been on delivering good design in communal and service delivery areas for staff, visitors and prisoners which are modern, but also secure, safe and ordered.

Sustainability is also a major focus of the design, with energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions on site integral to the design in line with Scottish Government guidance on securing green recovery on the path to transitioning to net zero emissions by 2045.

BakerHicks have been involved in the project from the early stages following their award of the contract for the concept design through the SPS framework in 2016. They have provided multi-disciplinary services on the project throughout the design stages, including architectural, civil & structural, mechanical & electrical, and principal designer services.

Laura James, Head of Scotland at BakerHicks, says the company’s considerable experience and expertise in the custodial sector helped shape the design process:

“We are proud of our continued work with SPS, helping them to achieve their objectives in delivering new and best-in-class prison facilities across the country.

“Our design team have been working on this project since its inception, and it is genuinely ground-breaking in terms of custodial design. This new style of prison creates an environment that helps aid rehabilitation, as well as being more inviting for visitors and family members. It is a far cry from the oppressive prison buildings of the past and I am excited to have the opportunity to have seen the building develop from its original concept right through to construction and completion.”

Hector MacAulay MBE, Managing Director, Balfour Beatty, also provided the following comment:

“We are delighted to be engaged by SPS to work up the detailed design and delivery of the new HMP Highland. We will draw on our extensive expertise in Modern Methods of Construction and Decarbonisation to deliver this ground-breaking new facility.”

Teresa Medhurst, Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service, said:

“The investment that we have received from the Scottish Government means that we can continue to develop a prison estate which is fit for purpose for the 21st century. The award of the pre-construction services contract to Balfour Beatty represents a significant step forward in delivering HMP Highland.”


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BDC 317 : Jun 2024