The architect in charge of the £22 million redesign of Paisley Town Hall has revealed the trials and challenges behind the five year regeneration scheme.

An A-listed Victorian building, the architectural gem sits in the heart of the town and its revamp forms a vital part of wider plans to reinvigorate Paisley's centre.

The Herald gave details of the first look inside the revamped building earlier this year when OneRen, the body that runs the building, revealed images of the work carried out inside the historic cultural hub.

Now, as the final touches are carried out before the first "trial event" to be held in the refreshed building, project architect Steven Coulson, gave a tour of the most striking features.

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Mr Coulson, of Holmes Miller Architects, has worked on the project since its inception in 2018.

He said: "I'm very passionate about the building and my dream for it is that it's busy and properly used.

READ MORE: A first look round the refurbished Paisley Town Hall

"But I'm a little bit bruised, there have been battles and problems along the way, it has not been straightforward.

"The building, we hoped, would have been ready a little bit earlier but the building fights against you sometimes."

During the refurbishment of the building, which dates from 1882, lead paint, asbestos and structural problems were uncovered.

A void space in the building has been transformed into a new dance studio but, towards the end of the refurb, it was noticed that the ceiling was rotten and "ready to fall down", meaning additional repair work.

Mr Coulson added: "But that being said, the skeleton of the building, the big sandstone box, is really robust and could take a bit of punishment and modification so the bones of the building were great and we've been building it back to its glory.

"With a grade A-listed building we have an obligation to refurbish the building in a sympathetic manner but it's a very beloved building, the community is in love with this building.

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"It's been at the heart of their community for a very long time so there's a responsibility to get the interventions right and make sure the building works harder for the community."

Mr Coulson described the transformation of the building as "night and day" to what it previously was, having been diminished over recent years to an under-used single hall.

Now capacity for the main auditorium has been increased from 800 to 1200 and new spaces have been added in, such as the dance studio and a cafe-bar in what was formerly a storage space.

Architectural features of the town hall have been preserved and restored with a motif of ceiling roses appearing in unlikely places, such as carved on to the lifts.

Mr Coulson said: "When you deal with a heritage building you have to first try to understand the language of what you are dealing with and when you begin to interrogate and analyse the language of the building.

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"In the main hall ceiling here are wonderful rosettes set in a very neoclassical pattern and we have to deal with those sensitively so we've put sound proof panels around them but we've never concealed them and we've used those patterns elsewhere in the building referencing part of the heritage fabric."

The Herald: Paisley Town Hall

In one of the spaces - there are now six in total, including a digital screening room - a floor mosaic was discovered but was too damaged to be safely removed.

Instead it has been carefully preserved and new flooring placed over the top.

A representative from OneRen on the tour jokes that Renfrewshire Council is going to have a serious bill for Brasso, given the amount of brass detailing in the building.

Mr Coulson added: "I spent three years fighting the contractors to say you can't have stainless steel in this building because I felt like if I caved in on one bit then everything would turn into stainless steel and it wouldn't meet the heritage requirements.

"There was quite an intelligent part of the client brief - certain people on the council were saying, 'Oh, we can't put a material that nice into a room because people will break it'.

"But the voice from the council coming through was that if you make it that nice then people won't want to break it and they will take ownership of it and they will enjoy the space."

Architects carried out a 3D analysis of every seat in the auditorium to re-rake the position of the seating and ensure a full view of the stage.

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The building has also been made more accessible with an increase from 20% of the building being accessible to 80%.

Toilet provision has doubled in capacity with separate women's, men's and unisex bathrooms as well as accessible toilets.

To achieve this, architects excavated down to the basement to create extra space.

Another challenge was finding specialists to carry out heritage work, such as the lime plaster used throughout the building - there are only two heritage plaster companies capable of taking on a building of Paisley Town Hall's size.

The hall, according to OneRen, is now "pretty much" pitch perfect, which has impressed promoters who have been invited to inspect the facilities.

But who might be lured to play at Paisley Town Hall when Glasgow's famous gig venues are so nearby?

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OneRen and Renfrewshire Council are coy about the names they want to attract but "we're not likely to get Beyonce here".

A spokesperson said: "The Hydro has got its own audiences but there's nothing to say we won't attract big name acts here for something they see as being more intimate.

"This is very much Paisley's big stage and it will find new audiences as well as the people with memories, people have really ingrained memories of the place.

"We haven't changed an old friend too much but we have brought it up to 21st century spec but it still looks classic, it still looks grand, it still looks like a rich and vibrant place you can come and enjoy whatever the show is.

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"The names I can't give you. But would it be nice if we had the likes of Paolo Nutini? Of course it would be.

"Would it be nice to have big names stepping off a plane and coming straight here? Definitely. And we expect that to happen." Paisley Town Hall will open for its first test event on September 29 ahead of the Mod coming to the venue from October 13.