Advocates Close streets ahead at awards night

The award-winning Advocates Close. Picture: Toby Williams
The award-winning Advocates Close. Picture: Toby Williams
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the £45 million transformation of Advocates Close in the Old Town has won top prize at a prestigious awards ceremony for Scotland’s best building developments.

The regeneration scheme – which saw the narrow close off the Royal Mile turned into an upmarket complex including apartments, bars and restaurants – was named Project of the Year at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Scotland Awards 2015.

It also won the Regeneration award at the RICS ceremony in the Sheraton Grand Hotel last night.

The scheme, by Edinburgh-based architects Morgan McDonnell, encompasses nine listed buildings over 11 storeys and bridging three closes between the High Street, Cockburn Street and Market Street.

Some of the buildings date as far back as the 15th century and the area was a favourite drinking place for Robert Louis Stevenson and his friends.

Judges said the development – which has already secured a number of national and international awards – had created a vibrant new quarter and given a new lease of life to the heart of Edinburgh’s World Heritage site. It includes a 208-room hotel and 50 serviced apartments with restaurants, offices, bars and cafes opening onto the closes.

Chair of the judging panel, Colin Smith, said: “Retaining and regenerating all of the existing buildings and restoring historical building forms resulted in a 
development which fits well within its impressive surroundings, whilst the contemporary additions are sensitive to the historical elements.

“It has brought a previously derelict area of Edinburgh back into use for both tourism and leisure.”

Chris Stewart, head of the development firm behind Advocates Close, said the team had been “sensitive to every detail” in undertaking the redevelopment.

The Advocates Close development will now automatically be entered in to the UK RICS Awards grand final, to be held in London in October, where it will compete against projects from the rest of the UK.

Other winners at last night’s ceremony included Glasgow School of Art, which took the Design through Innovation award and The Battle of Bannockburn Project, Stirling, which received the Tourism and Leisure accolade.

Sarah Speirs, director of RICS Scotland, said: “RICS Awards in Scotland have continued to grow in quality, volume and stature.

“This year we achieved the highest number of entries since the awards were launched over 11 years ago, with 42 individual project entries in Scotland and over 423 entries in the UK.

“I would like to congratulate all category winners and our Project of the Year, which is a 
fine example of how city regeneration can help restore Scottish heritage and provide for the local and wider community.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com