I have been actively involved in community projects since becoming a board member of Gorebridge Community Development Trust (GCDT) in 2007. I was taken on as architectural advisor for the community centre, now called Gorebridge Beacon, that was just being talked about by the then chair, Archie Pacey. I have since participated in several projects outlined below often in collaboration with my now co-chair, Stephanie Walker.
Halvorsen Architects and Stephanie Walker, a Forest School Leader, are running a series of projects in primary schools in Midlothian. They have completed one wood workshop culminating in the construction of a high-level hut with Tynewater Primary in Pathhead and are currently working with Stobhill Primary in Gorebridge to build a ‘sister eco-hut’ using straw bales or earthship construction.
Gail Halvorsen has been a director of Gorebridge Community Development Trust (GCDT), a community owned and managed charity which promotes the sustainable regeneration of Gorebridge, Midlothian since 2007. She has been involved in the organisation of many community events and advises GCDT on all architectural projects which currently include:
A £2.2m community centre project that will include a community café, conference facilities, offices and a heritage centre. The project’s main funders are the Big Lottery Fund and Coalfields Regeneration Trust. GCDT is committed to sustainable design and is aiming to make the Hub a zero-energy building. The trust have commissioned Irons Foulner, mechanical and electrical engineers, to examine the potential of various sources of renewable energy.
Halvorsen Architects and Stephen Ferrar, a structural engineer at David Narro Associates, have designed a timber footbridge over Gore Water to complete the seven mile Gorebridge Circular Walk. The Bridge has been designed so that all its components can be man-handled down the steep wooded banks of Gore Glen and assembled on site.
Newbyres Castle is one of those hidden gems. Tucked away behind Newbyres Hall on Gorebridge Main Street, you could quite easily walk past the ruins, now partially covered by debris built-up over the years, not knowing it is an Historic Scotland scheduled monument.
We are now in discussion with Historic Scotland and Archaeology Scotland about consolidating the structure. We then intend to build two timber play structures, with the help of local school children, around the ruins that relate to the original use of Newbyres Tower as a fortification.
Gorebridge’s old town was awarded a Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) grant by Historic Scotland and Midlothian Council in October 2013. The five year programme aids the restoration of buildings along Main Street and Hunterfield Road in the Conservation Area and includes a series of training and education courses.
At the instigation of the Scottish Government, GCDT and Midlothian Community Planning Partnership are working on a Locality Plan for Gorebridge. The plan will outline the developments and improvements that local residents would like to see in their town. GCDT and MCPP are collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders (including NHS, police and fire services and social workers). Halvorsen Architects has carried out various studies on Gorebridge including ones on housing, green and urban spaces and transport.
Halvorsen Architects has also drawn up sketch proposals for a new town centre around the proposed £2.2m Community Hub.
Halvorsen Architects is acting architect for the preservation of Stobs Gunpowder Mill (the earliest large scale gunpowder mill in Scotland built in 1794). This will include restoring the lade system, a series of interpretation panels and, hopefully, an education/interpretation centre to be partly powered by reinstating one of the 17 original water wheels.