6 city buildings on architecture prize shortlist

Advocate's Close. Picture: Greg Macvean
Advocate's Close. Picture: Greg Macvean
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SIX Edinburgh buildings ranging from a £30 million Old Town development to a £50,000 pavilion in a park have been shortlisted for a prestigious architecture prize.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (Rias) has announced a 27-strong shortlist for its 2014 awards with half a dozen Capital structures making the final cut.

St Martin's Church, Magdalene Drive. Picture: Greg Macvean

St Martin's Church, Magdalene Drive. Picture: Greg Macvean

And while high-profile multi-million pound developments have made the grade, a few less expensive but just as stylish structures are also in there.

A £50,000 pavilion at the junction of MacKenzie Place and St Bernard’s Bridge in Stockbridge is the smallest building to be shortlisted.

And a spectacular redevelopment of St Martin’s Church, by Ian Springford Architects, has also been included.

Rias secretary Neil Baxter said: “These awards have become firmly established as the most significant recognition of the social and economic benefits delivered by excellent architecture.

“The economic climate continues to be tough and it is a huge credit to the profession in Scotland that the remarkable work illustrated in these submissions is still being produced.”

The development of 12 flats and 11 houses for Port of Leith Housing Association and a new church hall for St Martin’s Church impressed the judges who were delighted by its simplicity and elegance.

Members of the Grassmarket Community Project were jumping for joy as its £1.5m development transformed an awkward gap site into an enhanced facility which provides a new social enterprise amenity in the heart of the Capital.

The £6.1m Edinburgh Centre of Carbon Innovation, based at the category B listed Old High School, a £12m development in Charlotte Square and a £30m complex in Advocate’s Close are also on the shortlist.

Other buildings across the country shortlisted included the new SSE Hydro and Commonwealth Games athletes village in Glasgow and the Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre.

Rias president Iain Connelly said: “This number of entries is a tremendous vote of confidence and confirms that this relatively new award, in only its third year, is now the single most important recognition of architectural achievement in Scotland.”

THE CANDIDATES AND THEIR CREDENTIALS

26-31 Charlotte Square: The £12 million prestigious New Town development deftly connects a row of restored townhouses with a new-build. The covered, linking, courtyard is an appropriate transition between the restored townhouses and the contemporary block behind. The Morgan McDonnell design has seen the former National Trust for Scotland offices transformed to form prime commercial accommodation. The six A-listed period properties have been restored by comprehensive repair, replacement and reinstatement of authentic room proportions. A new four-storey office with underground parking on Hope Street Lane is linked to the three central townhouses.

Advocate’s Close: This stunning piece of architecture is the second Morgan McDonnell structure to be shortlisted but this time it is in the Old Town. The building did cost £30m to build. However, it certainly made an impact with the Rias judges who described it as “urban weaving at its most complex, connected into the existing patterns of Edinburgh’s upper Old Town, the project connects refurbished historic properties with new-build.” This site was formerly occupied by Edinburgh City Council and encompasses nine listed buildings over 11 storeys and bridging three closes between High Street, Cockburn Street and Market Street.

Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation: Officially opened by the Princess Royal last October, the centre cost more than £6m to build but it certainly seems like it was money well spent. Designed by Malcolm Fraser Architects, the centre is based in Edinburgh’s historic category B listed Old High School. The judges on the panel said: “Appropriately for a building focussed on sustainability, this facility utilises two historic buildings, connected and given cohesion by a new circulation block. The development draws on the past to enhance the future.”

And who are we to argue.

Grassmarket Community Project: The judging panel commented that “this project transformed an awkward gap site into the entrance to enhanced facilities and provides a new social enterprise amenity in the heart of Edinburgh. The new building occupies its site with ingenuity and charm”. The Gareth Hoskins design cost just over £1.5m but it certainly seems that it was money well spent. The tight site adjacent to the grade A listed Greyfriars Kirkyard was formerly occupied by three derelict industrial warehouses. The new building which includes the extended and renovated Greyfriars Kirkhouse as well as a new community hall was opened by Finance Secretary John Swinney last April.

MacKenzie Place: A £50,000 pavilion at the junction of MacKenzie Place and St Bernard’s Bridge in Stockbridge is the smallest building to be shortlisted. Judges said: “This simple pavilion in the park signals the well-established allotments for which it provides an important and overdue amenity. Spare and restrained, it is an elegant and attractive intervention.” Architects Sutherland Hussey stated that the plans, which were proposed by Edinburgh City Council, were conceived as a gatehouse to an existing allotment site. It is wedge-shaped to take up the irregular nature of the site and intentionally prominent to signify the entrance as people approach along MacKenzie Place.

Redevelopment of St Martin’s Church, Magdalene Drive: The Ian Springford development has seen 12 flats and 11 houses developed for the Port of Leith Housing Association and a new church hall for St Martin’s Church parishioners. The site was formerly occupied by the original St Martin’s Church, a 1950s building that was in poor condition and simply too large for the current congregation to manage and maintain. The project involved demolishing the original church and providing the congregation with a smaller building that was better suited for their requirements and releasing the rest of the site for new housing.