Client: Ross Development Trust
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Status: Competition - Shortlisted
Lead Consultant and Architect: Flanagan Lawrence
Planning Consultant: JLL
Cost Consultant: Thomson Gray Construction Consultants
Structural, Water, Civil Engineer: Expedition
Acoustic, Venue, Lighting, Building Services Consultant: ARUP
Landscape Architect: Gillespies
Heritage Consultant: Alan Baxter Associates
Lighting Consultant: Lighting Design Collective
A shortlisted competition proposal for a £25 million visitor centre and performance space in West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.
The competition brief called for a design that provided a highly flexible performance space capable of fitting in sensitively within the historic gardens, which act as a topographical and visual division between the Old and New Towns. Sitting below the dramatic Castle Rock, the West Princes Street Gardens are a low-lying, open green space, famous for their use for the Festival Fireworks and at Hogmanay.
Our proposal responds to the heritage context and character of the Gardens with a subtle, sinuous form for the structure that reflects the surrounding topography, contrasting with the angular built form of the city, all while maintaining the amount of green space available to the public.
The Landform building shape, embedded into the landscape, flows seamlessly into the proposed greening of the formerly-concrete amphitheatre. This strategy is intended to make the Gardens more connected to the city and encourage public usage, all while increasing space and providing an environmental benefit. Connections across the Gardens are improved by situating the visitor centre under the extended pavement of Princes Street, ensuring generous and easy public access.
The venue itself is designed to be remarkably flexible. Events range from intimate indoor events for 200 and everything up to 8,000 for Hogmanay. The nature of the stage and the flexibility of the green amphitheatre allow each event to feel ‘right’ in the space.
This is a project of contrasts; between the New and Old Towns and the Gardens that separate them, and between quiet tranquil days in the Gardens and vibrant large scale public concerts. Our concept is based on creating an architecture that can perform equally well with each of these contrasting modes of behaviour. Our design solution is based on understanding how our interventions can be both introverted when the gardens are quiet, and extroverted during the celebrations and events.