The New Highland Cinema in Fort William

November 30, 2020

Dualchas were delighted to see the Highland Cinema open its doors in September 2020.

This vibrant new cultural hub on Fort William’s High Street is the key element of the recent regeneration of the town centre, and the design has a distinct Highland character.

Our client had a vision for a new cinema to help improve the social life and built environment of the town. He approached Dualchas in late summer 2018, and just over two years later the building is open for business. 

This required a remarkable team effort over a short space of time to achieve planning, building warrant, demolition, construction, commissioning, specialist installations and an opening event, all within two years. This was despite it being on a problematic and restricted town centre site and the unforeseen Covid-19 obstacles of 2020. 

The Cameron Square site originally housed the old town hall but was more recently the location of the tourist office and Studio Cinema building. The cinema closed in 2005 and had been deemed unsustainable in its current form. A shop operated at ground level, but the building had become dilapidated and a negative presence on the square.

Our design sought to place a new ‘hall’ on the square to serve as a café, bar, meeting and performance space. This space is open to the public from morning to evening and has a welcoming outlook. Behind this, the ‘black boxes’ of the cinemas and supporting services are partly submerged into the land to reduce their bulk and help to improve the lanes to either side of the building. The scale of the pitched roof forms is reminiscent of local village halls and distillery warehouses. The stone of the front block was reclaimed from a derelict sheep fank, and the bold red roof was a specific request of the client’s and has become an important part of the cinema’s graphic identity.

This project illustrates that a vision can be developed and delivered in a relatively short space of time to produce a bespoke building that the town can be proud of. The opening of the cinema is the start of an exciting new chapter for the town centre, and the long-term social and economic benefits will be felt for generations.

This was achieved through a positive attitude of collaboration within our team:

Galbraith; 3B Construction; David Narro Associates; Harley Haddow; ARC Cinema Consultants; Sandy Brown Associates; Hamish Bell Associates.
 

highland cinema in fort william

The Highland Cinema is open for business seven days a week. Tickets and information can be found at https://highlandcinema.co.uk.

More information on the project page: https://www.dualchas.com/our-projects/tourism/highland-cinema

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