Laidlaw Auction Rooms, Carlilse

Laidlaw Auction Rooms, Carlilse

The Temple Auction Rooms – St Nicholas St, Carlisle for Laidlaw Auctioneers and Valuers


Aditus Architectural Services Ltd where commissioned by Paul Laidlaw of Laidlaw Auctioneers and Valuers to undertake the design work for conversion of a former Salvation Army Temple in Carlisle to a bespoke auction house.

The clients was very specific about the feel he hoped to obtain through the design work and we were fully onboard with their vision.  It was important that the feel of the existing premises was not lost in the conversion works and that the stunning features, including high windows and vaulted ceilings were retained and highlighted.  Part of the works would require new access arrangements and parking facilities and the movement of people and goods was especially important.

The brief included creating a working library and office area that would be securely accessed, but be visible from the auction room and have easy access from there.  The client was keen that these spaces should be a light and transparent feature of the main hall, which was to be the showcase for the auctions and the business.  Supporting spaces, including storage, processing and catering were to be distributed to the smaller hall and rooms.

We presented a design vision which incorporated the addition of a mezzanine platform in the main auction hall with offices below.  This enabled us to site the library area within the timber clad vaulted ceiling and gave it an uninterrupted view of the hall below.  To achieve this we utilised a clear glass balustrade all across the mezzanine and a bespoke metal staircase in a glazed stairwell leading up to it from the offices below.  On the mezzanine we also reinstated a stunning arched window that had been removed and built up in the past, which allowed light to flood in to the library and auction hall beyond and create a focal point in the room.

Downstairs we incorporated full height internal glazed screens between the office and the auction hall, giving a strong sense of connection, whilst maintaining the security and privacy that was required.  The existing entrance from the street, located between the two halls, was set back, low key and not commensurate with the nature of the business and clientele, so a new entrance from the street was formed into the office and reception area with a prominent glazed door and glazed screen incorporating strong branding, adding to the transparency and emphasising the quality of the building.

These design elements were first explored with computer-generated imagery and presented to the client for approval and confirmation they were in tune with his vision for the space.  This enabled us to identify any practical or engineering challenges to successfully translate the client’s wishes into a buildable concept.

Interventions were kept to a minimum where they affected the original building fabric as there was a desire to display the original form and features as much as possible, but some practical amendments were needed:

We formed a new external double door through an existing window opening to connect the main hall to the car park for loading/unloading.  We also replaced a number of damaged internal windows and doors and refurbished the stunning parquet flooring in both halls.  An existing bespoke rostrum was brought from Laidlaw’s previous premises and installed in the main hall with projection wall behind.

More modern partitions were removed and other rooms were opened up to create areas for storage and processing, and all rooms were refurbished and decorated.  The toilets were refurbished and separated from an existing open plan room to resolve poor circulation and access problems and create additional storage.

The clients were extremely happy with the end result and the overall design solution has exceeded all expectations.  We are proud to have worked with Laidlaw’s to create a space that is both reflective of the buildings past and fully functional as a successful and modern auction environment.