Inverness Justice Centre

timber-clad, double-height, pyramidal ceiling tower in the main courtroom at Inverness Justice Centre. A single skylight at the top. Inside the tower, a square hanging light.
2020 | Client Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service

In what is a Scottish architectural first, the Inverness Justice Centre brings together under one roof criminal and civil courts as well as numerous related community services.

Exterior of Inverness Justice Centre, illuminated at night. Tall white columns run the length of the two story building, which is glass and white concrete with metal screens.

By integrating a range of service delivery organisations, including Citizens Advice, Victim Support Scotland and Police Scotland, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) hopes the centre will better support victims of crime as well as witnesses and litigants.

Detail of pale concrete columns and brick screens at Inverness Justice Centre.

The imposing two-storey building, with its 115-metre front elevation studded with concrete columns, includes six timber-lined courtrooms as well as offices, holding cells, reception areas and other ancillary accommodation.

View of courtroom at Inverness Justice Centre. Timber-clad walls and desks, with a central, timber-clad tall ceiling tower.
View across a new, modern courtroom at Inverness Justice Centre. Seating, desks and screens in a mostly timber-clad room.

The courtrooms themselves have no windows, in order to minimise distraction from the proceedings, but they alternate with a series of internal courtyards along the building’s length, an arrangement that allows people waiting outside the courtrooms to have access to natural light and ventilation.

In a public area at Inverness Justice Centre, Inverness. A modern courthouse. Bench seating gives views via large windows to an internal courtyard. Polished flooring and a concrete ceiling.
Internal courtyard at Inverness Justice Centre. A pine tree is surrounded by a ground of red stones. Through windows a public area with seating.
Exterior of Inverness Justice Centre. Pale concrete with carved insignia of HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
View of staircase and columns at Inverness Justice Centre. Industrial feeling with raw concrete, steel and glass.

Sustainable construction in Inverness

The primary structure uses a special low-CO2 reinforced concrete, which helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the building. Concrete also provides an effective and economic solution to the acoustic protection required as part of the building’s judicial function.

Further carbon reductions were achieved via the specification of post-tensioned concrete slabs, reducing the thickness – and the amount of material – required. Other key sustainable elements include the use of natural ventilation, the quality of daylight and the ability to control glare, solar gain and internal temperatures.

Public seating area at Inverness Justice Centre. High ceilinged space with raw and polished concrete finishes. Staircase with glass and steel balustrade, wooden seating.

Full quantity surveying service

As quantity surveyor, we supplied a full pre- and post-contract scope of service, which included the new building and complete fit-out of all bespoke and loose furniture, as well as associated hard and soft landscaping.

In the initial stages, we were involved in the outline feasibility and cost estimation for the overall budget, which was necessary to secure associated government funding within the required timescales. 

Office area at Inverness Justice Centre. Modular desk banks and chairs with sound proofing. Ceiling skylight and windows make the space bright.
Landscaping at Inverness Justice Centre. Benches and newly planted trees alongside paved paths and grass. The Entrance to the Justice Centre is pale concrete with tall columns.

Benchmarking data based on our experience of working with SCTS proved essential to keeping control of the budget – particularly with regard to secure areas such as cells and interview rooms, where fit-out with specialised material and equipment is at a premium.

Cells at the Inverness Justice Centre. Steel doors are open.
Inside a cell at Inverness Justice Centre. White walls, wooden seated bench.
Exterior of Inverness Justice Centre. Glass and perforated steel screens

Monthly reporting and cost control

As the design progressed, we advised on construction and other costs, such as professional fees and inflation, and their impact on the overall budget. We also provided contractual advice and reported monthly on costs and valuations. Through rigorous market testing of around 48 work packages, with a minimum of three suppliers each, we were able to agree the contract sum with the contractor and thereby ensure that cost efficiencies were included in the construction value from the outset.

We kept the client fully informed in respect of the anticipated annual expenditure during the project’s lifetime, with regular updates during the construction period. This enabled them to manage their overall funding strategy for other projects.

Clerk of works role

Our building surveying department acted as clerk of works and full NEC3 contract supervisor during the construction stage. In this way we supported the client in administering the contract efficiently, with one main point of contact, allowing them to concentrate on other priorities such as ensuring that court procedures continued uninterrupted as they planned their move from Inverness Castle.

Corridor and waiting area at Inverness Justice Centre. Benches and a staircase are brightly lit by large windows. Patterned steel screens on some windows.
Office area at Inveness Justice Centre. Modular furniture and industrial feel finish. Large windows with patterned steel screens provide bright light.

Completed with distinction

The Inverness Justice Centre opened its doors in March 2020, as planned, and the final cost was within budget. The finished project won two ‘public building’ plaudits from architecture and design professionals: a Scottish Property Architectural Excellence Award and a Scottish Design Award. It was also shortlisted for the RIAS National Award.

Modern courtroom at Inverness Justice Centre. Wood panelling and desks. Above, a wood-clad tower rises up to a skylight.


Architect Reiach and Hall Architects
Structural Engineer
Services Engineer
Landscape Architect
horner + maclennan
Project Manager
Currie & Brown
Quantity Surveyor
Thomson Gray
NEC Supervisor
Thomson Gray
Images Keith Hunter, Reiach and Hall Architects


2022 RIAS National Award: Shortlist
Scottish Design Awards: Public Building
Scottish Property Architectural Excellence Award: Public