Gaia Architects

Procuring a dream, by the community for the community

Ullapool Swimming Pool

Client: Ullaspool Ltd

The community had dreamed for many years of building North West Scotland's first ever swimming pool but could not get the support from the local council. They decided to go it alone and raised £10k, enough to commission architects to conduct a feasibility study.

This project was an exemplar of community involvement in the design, procurement, business planning and management aspects of a sports facility for a remote rural community. In terms of the usage of the pool the procurement process, fully involving the community, has meant that it has genuinely felt ownership.


The Business Plan for the project was put together in large community meetings using a project financial planning tool developed by Gaia. This indicated in simple terms the capital and revenue implications of a range of facilities, such that the community could prioritise their requirements against affordability. They were therefore able to understand and make decisions based on realistic and appropriate compromises. The Ullapool community gained a lot of credibility for a properly sized and not over-ambitious project and the population of only 1,500 raised £150,000 over 3 years, in a range of fund-raising initiatives. This triggered support from a wide range of partners.


The Ullaspool project is still thriving and providing local youth with access to good and wide-ranging facilities as was part of an original set of objectives. The project is more fully documented in a BIG Lottery fund publication on capital funding of community projects.


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