Lower Dens, Hotel Indigo, Dundee

Conversion of two grade-A listed former mill buildings into a 4-star boutique hotel with 102 bedrooms, restaurant and bar facilities. The internal courtyard was also developed to incorporate limited private parking spaces and drop off zones. The conversion elevates the historic buildings to their original glory, matching the historic design aesthetic and bringing the once derelict buildings back to life.​




CSAM Limited



Renovation and conversion of the North Mill and Bell Mill buildings which form part of the Category A listed former Lower Dens Works into a 102 room 4-star boutique hotel, whilst preserving the industrial heritage and historical significance of the buildings for the enjoyment and understanding of future generations.

The hotel was the first phase of redevelopment and located to the east of Dundee City centre and was the southernmost part of Lower Dens Works. Owned by the Baxter Brothers, the facility was at one time the largest linen factory in the world.

The North Mill and Bell Mill buildings are Category A Listed. Bell Mill, St Roques Lane (1866); and North Mill, Princes Street (1935).

The existing interior of the Bell Mill is fireproof with two rows of cast iron columns carrying cast iron beams, wrought iron ties and brick arches. Fine cast iron gothic roofs on clustered columns. The North Mill has concrete floors on tubular steel columns, but with similar spans to iron framed mills.

The primary vehicular and pedestrian access to the development is through the central courtyard space as accessed from Constable Street. The central courtyard space is hard landscaped and incorporates limited hotel guest parking and drop off zones. Supplementary car parking shall be sought in DCC operated public parking zones to the surrounding areas.

The main entrance to the hotel is in the ground floor of the North Mill which offers large floor to ceiling heights as appropriate for such a proposed use. Most of the ground floor incorporates support functions and facilities as appropriate to a modern hotel such as a restaurant and bar, and meeting room in addition to the traditional ‘back of house’ functions.

The remaining upper floors of both the North Mill and Bell Mill incorporate mainly standard hotel rooms with some accessible/family rooms included at the junction between the North Mill and Bell Mill.

Renovation works to the building envelope involved the installation of new timber windows, screens & doors, whilst matching the existing ‘crittall’ style and satisfying the thermal and acoustic requirements dictated by the brand operator and statutory authorities. New openings were created for windows and doors as necessary to suit purpose of the new hotel use. The stonework was repaired and replaced where necessary, whilst the roof was completely replaced with a combination of slate, to match existing, and single ply roofing membrane system to the satisfaction of the planning department.

Internally, the existing stairs and hoists were removed, and new stairs and lifts were introduced in locations required to satisfy the statutory requirements for escape and firefighting purposes. Existing features were exposed where possible. This is particularly evident in the guestrooms, where the existing brick jack arch soffits are exposed in the sleeping areas.

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The Challenge

The conversion of the disused old Mill building provided many challenges. Predominantly those relating to the constraints provided by the existing structural layout. The introduction of three new stair cores and two new lift shafts were necessary to meet current building standards and hotel brand standard compliance. The retained cast iron columns, whilst providing a unique feature, also provided a challenge when planning guestroom layouts.

The Solution

The circulation routes were carefully designed and planned in order that they could be incorporated within the existing cast iron beam and column arrangements. The existing columns and features were exposed and incorporated within the guestrooms where possible. Most columns were exposed within the ensuite’s, providing a unique feature.

The Outcome

The pragmatic and sympathetic approach to the conversion elevates the grade-A listed buildings to their former glory and matches the historic design aesthetic, whilst adopting many of the mandatory requirements imposed by the hotel brand standards and statutory authorities. The converted buildings now offer a facility that meets the requirements of the modern consumer.

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