Ross Pavilion redesign: Accessibility a key feature in one design

Designs submitted in the competition to design a replacement for the Ross Bandstand in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens

Amphitheatre (c) Malcolm Reading Consultants, William Matthews Associates and Sou Fujimoto
Designs submitted in the competition to design a replacement for the Ross Bandstand in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens Amphitheatre (c) Malcolm Reading Consultants, William Matthews Associates and Sou Fujimoto
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A GRADUAL spiralling pathway that circles around the public gardens forms the statement feature of Matthew William Associates’ design.

In conjunction with prominent Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, the design was inspired by Celtic spirals and aims to give people different views of the city from every step along the “pathway”.

And director William Matthews said the inspiration for the design came from the first line of the competition brief – “a place for people”.

He explained: “A place for people really struck us – to create a place for people to gather and listen to music, to appreciate cultural events, performing arts and gather round.

“There’s something very natural about people forming a circle when they congregate and that, in particular, when people gather round to watch somebody perform.”

And putting people at the heart of the architect’s concept highlighted a significant factor of re-imagining Princes Street Gardens for everyone.

“When I visited the site, aside from the striking location, I noticed the different level changes,” said Mr Matthews.

“People were pushing a wheelchair up the path. It’s a challenge for lots of people to get down into the gardens at the moment – there are steps at each end and the existing cobble ramps are very steep.”

The “rings” will also play into the Victorian idea of “promenading”.

Mr Matthews said: “One of the things about these gardens was to see and be seen – people would go out to “promenade” and watch people.

“We’ve incorporated that idea as you look up to the circular pathways you can see other people above you walking down, or up, and there’s a sense of fun in that!”

And for the pavilion, the collaborative architect team was determined that it would remain interesting and relevant on days when performances were not taking 
place.

“When there isn’t a band or orchestra playing, it is easy for a building, such as the current pavilion, to look rather dead,” Mr Matthews added.

“It’s like an empty football stadium – a bandstand needs a band.”

To prevent this happening, the pavilion would have a glazed front where members of the public would still be able to see smaller, scheduled events happening inside the building on a far more regular basis.

Mr Matthews said: “This could be school plays or community events or other activity that could be seen from the outside.

“People rather like watching what’s happening, be that backstage, things being set up or taken down – it’s still alive every day.”

The designs of all seven shortlisted firms are on display in a free-to-enter exhibition at the City Art Centre, Wednesday-Sunday from 10am-6pm until July 30. The public are invited to share their views on the project via a survey at the exhibition or by e-mailing the competition organisers, Malcolm Reading Consultants, at rosspavilion@malcolmreading.co.uk.

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk