In August 2012 the Highlands and Islands flagship secondary school The Nicolson Institute opened its doors to facilitate a new summer intake for its 140th year. The school was established in 1873 by five brothers called Nicolson, all from the borough of Stornoway. It was indeed the second youngest brother Alexander Morison Nicolson who is considered the founder of the school. He left the princely sum of almost £2000 in his will after being killed in a tragic boiler explosion aboard his ship in Shanghai at the age of 33. He wished “for the education and rearing of destitute children, in the hope that I may be indirect means of rendering some assistance to the children of some of my oldest acquaintances.”

The original school was designed and built around an impressive Clock Tower which played an important part in the new design ensuring the specification of the lightweight natural stone facade was in keeping with its traditions laid down 140 years earlier.

Architects 3D Reid in Edinburgh were entrusted with the design and a joint-venture of building contractors of Farrans Construction, H&J Martin and David Patton & Sons took on the implementation of a lightweight natural stone façade. It is suitable to be supported by a lightweight modern backing wall whilst still robust enough to withstand a possible blast load from the nearby gas installation.

The lightweight TI Aerolite® natural stone facade created on the school building is a traditional design of multi-coursing heights and lengths installed in a random stretcher bond layout and complete with pre-formed window jambs, cills, heads and copings. All of which are supported seamlessly and simply by the TI Tracking Generic Rail System creating aesthetically natural depth and solidness.

This randomness in lengths and heights was optimized to seven number standard lengths as opposed to the original over one hundred sizes by simply altering the preformed corner units’ lengths to six number in four coursing heights.

The new surroundings, by connecting the past and the present, the old and the new, the tradition and the modernity, embrace the ideals of the school’s motto “Sequamur” being a shortening of a Latin phrase meaning “Let us follow the best examples”.

Architect: 3D Reid

Main Contractor: Farrans Construction

Installer: H&J Martin and David Patton & Sons

Products Used: Aerolite Stonework

Date Completed: 2012