RESTORATION/CONSERVATION Birks Cinema Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross Birks Cinema Aberfeldy opened in 1939, just before the start of WW2, and closed in the mid 1980’s. After a period as an amusement arcade it finally closed and then remained disused and neglected for almost a decade. Situated on a prominent corner of the town square the boarded up cinema along with a few empty shops gave the whole town a depressed and run down appearance. The building, which was on the Buildings at Risk Register, is not listed but was identified as significant in the Aberfeldy Conservation Area Appraisal introducing an unusual Art Deco element to the main civic space. However the public space in front of the cinema and the elevation facing Chapel Street were noted as being of poor visual quality. The Friends of the Birks Cinema was registered as a charity and by obtaining small grants from the Lottery and Perth & Kinross Council commissioned Robin Baker Architects to prepare a Feasibility Study before apply for Planning Consent. When a Town Centre Regeneration Fund was launched the Friends were able to attract a further grant that enabled them to acquire the building. The grant also provided funding for work to strip out the building, 114 SPECIFICATION JOURNAL 2015-2016 removing asbestos, lead paint as well as making the building watertight. After this major step forward an impressive fundraising and publicity campaign was launched with numerous volunteers who contributed many hours of their time and professional experience. Through their vision and hard work they managed to raise funding for the £1.25m construction work and the restored cinema opened again. The renovation works retained the Art Deco façade and the substantial rendered brick walls to the original 450 seat cinema hall. The hall was reroofed and subdivided to provide a 100 seat auditorium with a double height café bar lit by new glazing in the Chapel Street elevation. Some windows in the Art Deco facade were slightly enlarged to open up views in and out to the square. The building design exceeded the current standards of energy efficiency.
RESTORATION/CONSERVATION This project has created an excellent new arts venue comprising a state of the art digital cinema that has brought new life into a formerly rundown town centre and attracted new economic investment. Perth and Kinross Council have been very supportive of the project throughout and, when approached for assistance to upgrade the Dunkeld Street and Chapel Street pavements, they offered to provide landscaping works. This resulted in repaving of the two street frontages, removal of unsightly railings and other signpost clutter, providing a new lighting pole and an enlarged bus shelter & extra seating. This work, that was coordinated with the opening of the cinema, has considerably enhanced the setting of the cinema and integrated it into the town square. Credits Architect: Robin Baker Architects Client: The Friends of the Birks Cinema / Perth & Kinross Council Structural Engineer: Allen Gordon & Co. Services Engineer: Max Fordham Quantity Surveyor: Ralph Ogg & Partners Interior Designer: Burrell Foley Fischer SPECIFICATION JOURNAL 2015-2016 115