The Corner, Darvel


Completion Date:


Building owner/client:

DART (Darvel Area Regeneration Team)

Architect or lead designer:

Fleming Muir Architects

Local Authority Area:

East Ayrshire

Nominating Body:


Project Description

A place to socialise, celebrate and have a blether!

This was the very place where the Darvel Industrial Cooperative Society with its range of shops and function rooms was situated at the heart of our small town for well over a century – a cornerstone of our community.

In its heyday, when Darvel was a world leader in the manufacture of lace furnishings, the Co-op Corner as it was known was a successful gathering place.

However, over thirty years ago the Co-op ceased trading and vacated the entire site. Under private ownership, the buildings were abandoned and left to deteriorate. At this time Darvel was in danger of losing its community focus and of becoming a dormitory town. Such was the impact of the dilapidated Co-op buildings that in 2009 the town was nominated for the infamous “Carbuncle of the Year Award” by Prospect Magazine. The empty buildings languished, later condemned and eventually demolished.

Fast forward to the summer of 2019 and an opportunity to transfer ownership to the community materialised. That’s when the Darvel Area Regeneration Team (DART) was formed primarily to reimagine the site. DART is a charity made up entirely of local volunteers.

The question was: ”what to do with the site?” There were many and varied suggestions, but the most impactful sentiment from the community was to reinvent the space as a modern version of what it once stood for. In other words, a gathering place with community spirit and a renewed sense of civic pride.

So, it was decided to build a multi-purpose public space for events, markets and active travel. The project would simply be known as “The Corner”, a nod to its strategic and historic significance in the town.

A local project team of volunteers was established and in turn, an architect and main contractor were appointed. A project launch was planned for spring 2020, however along came the Covid pandemic. Endless delays ensued with work eventually starting on-site in June 2021.

Two years later, The Corner was finished and tentatively held its inaugural event. It turned out to be an incredibly successful 2-day festival promoting cycling and active travel in the local area. We called it “Darvélo”. The weather was kind, and large numbers of the community enjoyed the active experience, as well as socialising and listening to live music.

Since then, The Corner has become a popular venue for regular events and markets as well as a place just to sit and chat, eat ice cream or for kids to Zumba.

People are telling us The Corner is fantastic and that it’s a well-designed, pleasant public space, completely different but befitting its historic site. It’s encouraging that it has already regenerated a palpable community spirit: Nathan said, ”It provides a perfect focal point for the village.”

The Corner is fast becoming Darvel’s “go to” place to socialise, celebrate and have a blether!

Supporting Statement

Community involvement, benefit and impact

Alexis said, ”Bringing community young and old together”.

Darvel’s Community Action Plan, activity groups including schoolchildren, online surveys and questionnaires invaluably informed our project team, providing a collective voice from inception to completion.

Our most recent online Survey generated a lot of positive feedback. The Corner has boosted community inclusivity, wellbeing, local commerce and civic pride.

The Darvélo cycling festival encouraged the use of sustainable travel for all ages and levels of mobility.

In its first 6 months of operation, The Corner has hosted 12 formal events involving over 200 local vendors and over 4,000 visitors. Market days, a Halloween Special and our Christmas Fayre were all incredibly popular. Informal activities have included the Brownies, Scouts, Walkers, Cyclists and the Church.

Design, build quality

Norman said, ”I’m so proud that such a wonderful space could be conceived and completed in a wee town like Darvel.”

The Corner design concept was developed entirely by local volunteers. The sloping site was transformed by creating upper and lower terraces with the transitional space becoming an amphitheatre. The lower terrace contains the Canopy, an all-weather shelter.

Working with the Architect we selected attractive, hard-wearing, low-maintenance materials. Design features include full wheelchair accessibility, raised planters with seating edges, power distribution throughout, low-energy LED lighting, recycling bins and an Active Travel hub. We plan to include grey water collection and a sedum roof to our Store.

Local contractors and suppliers were appointed, for example all the balustrading and benches were fabricated and installed by a local metalworker.


Mhairi said, ”One of the best things to happen to Darvel”

Our aim was to create a beautiful community space that would be welcoming, greener and a more sustainable public space at the heart of our town. The scale of The Corner works well with its combination of split terraces, soft landscaping, an amphitheatre, a shelter and a historic backdrop. The sensory garden not only captures rainwater and reduces local flooding, but also offers habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.

Our Active Travel hub includes cycle stands, route maps, drinking water and a bike repair station developed with funding from Sustrans.

On market days, we extend our covered space with a series of colourful trader tents.


June said, ”Bringing people together that would never come out usually.”
Through tireless endeavours to secure sufficient funds from multiple sources, including a successful crowdfunding appeal, we managed to finance this £500,000k project. Acquiring the site, developing the concept, the design and construction phases were all challenging. This was our very first project and we had to get it right for Darvel. It was an epic task.

So, despite pressures on funding, COVID-19, the main contractor withdrawing, a burst water main and the architect sadly hospitalised, we finally got there.

In November, DART was delighted to receive the King’s Award for Voluntary Service (KAVS), the highest award bestowed upon a voluntary organisation. The award was given for outstanding voluntary work primarily for our very first community project: the creation of The Corner.