Natural slate roofing from the UK’s leading producer, Cumbria-based Burlington, features as the roof finish on the new Shetland Museum and Archives building, recently opened on the islands and constructed at a cost of £11.6 million. Managed by the Shetland Amenity Trust and designed by award wining architects, BDP, the building has a traditional pitched roof structure that is finished in 1800sq m of Burlington Blue/Grey natural slate.

Appropriately constructed using traditional materials - also including harled masonry walls and timber windows - Shetland Museum and Archives occupies a dynamic waterside setting on the historic Hay’s Dock in the centre of Lerwick, Shetland’s capital.

Home to a remarkable collection of over 3,000 artefacts, the Burlington roof covering was specified to help provide protection to the building, and in particular for its resilience to the extreme maritime climate that exists in this most exposed of UK locations.

Specified as sized slates - 18” in length by random widths - the Burlington roof covering was installed by Shetland-based main contractors, DITT Construction. Occupying the roofscapes of the Shetland Museum and Archives’ traditional form, the Burlington slate serves to complement the building’s overall presence which is punctuated by the iconic form of the three storey timber clad boat hall, the sloping walls of which have been conceived as large abstract sails – separated by tall, narrow vertical glazing strips. This design feature serves to echo in colour and form the sails of the Herring drifters which were built in the adjoining 19th Century boatsheds.

Alongside the boat hall – containing five traditional boats dramatically suspended in mid-air - Shetland Museum and Archives features a central core of display galleries at ground and first floor levels, orientated to maximise natural light and views over Hays Dock. A dedicated temporary exhibition space is located behind this and adjacent to the foyer.

On the building’s upper levels lies the Archives repository, associated public search room and staff accommodation. Shetland Museum and Archives also houses a 120 seat lecture theatre and 60 seat restaurant that has an external terrace and panoramic sea views.

Constructed with funding from Shetland Charitable Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund, Shetland Museum and Archives has recently been chosen as a best practice example by the Scottish Executive in its new strategy for architecture.

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