Comment: Show world we are a confident, modern city

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A spool of ribbon? A peeled apple? A roll of paper from a printing press?

Whatever you see in the designs for the proposed five star hotel in the St James Quarter there is no doubting that it is a talking point.

The bold design won’t be to everyone’s taste but it’s a big improvement on what’s already there. Let’s face it, you’d have to try really hard to make it worse. And there is a certain beauty in its swirling walls.

Edinburgh is crying out for some bold and imaginative modern architecture.

The last thing that we need is more of the “identikit” glass and sandstone buildings that have sprung up all over the city in recent years. That is a trap that, unfortunately, much of the rest of the St James development looks as though it has fallen into.

A bold centrepiece would give the new district character and show the world that the Capital is about far more than beautiful, old buildings, it is a confident, modern city too.

The illustrations that we see today will now be pitched into a long – some would say tortuous – design and planning process. They are likely to change, possibly dramatically, during that time.

That in itself is no bad thing, and can help ensure that a major new building fits properly into its surroundings.

That doesn’t just mean not looking out of place, but crucially involves creating a space that people will use and enjoy at all hours of the day and night, unlike the nearby Multrees Walk which generally becomes deserted after office hours.

Let’s hope that what emerges from the planning process is bold rather than bland. The redevelopment of the St James Quarter is a great opportunity to build something genuinely exciting in the city centre without spoiling the surrounding World Heritage Site. Let’s not blow it by sticking with dull, formulaic architecture.