12 iconic Edinburgh buildings that have found a new lease of life

Compared to many other UK cities, Edinburgh is a city that places great value on its built heritage, with regeneration often favoured over destruction.

Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 3:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 3:17 pm
The Quartermile project.
The Quartermile project.

Architectural conservation is treated as a priority in Scotland’s capital, and, where possible, planners work hard to ensure that new custodians of old buildings are made to retain their best features.

We take a look at a dozen iconic landmarks around Edinburgh that have found a new lease of life.

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For years the lone remains of the once vast North British Rubber Factory at Castle Mills in Fountainbridge lay derelict and unused. Three years ago Edinburgh Printmakers moved in, transforming the handsome brick building into a modern art studio.

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Dating from 1923, the Caley Picture House is one of Edinburgh's oldest cinema buildings. Latterly a night club, the former cinema has enjoyed various new leases of life and is now a Wetherspoon super pub.
Built as the hub of district's once thriving fishing industry, this delightful old fishmarket continues to grace Newhaven Harbour. The Fishmarket was recently voted one of the world's best fish restaurants by Lonely Planet.
In 2003, one of the largest facade retention projects in Europe got underway when Edinburgh's former G.P.O. was gutted out leaving only its 150-year-old shell. It is now an office complex named Waverley Gate.
This huge former warehouse at Market Street once housed the fruit and vegetables arriving in by train from Waverley Station. In 1980 the building was transformed into the City Art Centre and has been exhibiting the best in Scottish and international art ever since.
Situated at the top of Castlehill, the highest point in central Edinburgh, this 19th century former reservoir once contained the city's chief water supply. It is now occupied by the Tartan Weaving Mill.
Designed by William Henry Playfair, the former Donaldson's school for the Deaf has long been regarded among Edinburgh's finest architectural treasures. A new luxury housing development occupies the grounds and the main building is being transformed for residential use.
It would be rude not to include our former newspaper offices. The Scotsman buildings were famously home to The Scotsman and Evening News for much of the 20th century. Today the baroque-style building contains The Scotsman Hotel. Rooms such as the Headline Suite, the Features Suite and Reporter Room recall the building's original use.
Formerly the Tolbooth Kirk, this striking building was built in the 1840s and was originally served as a meeting hall for the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Today it's known as the Hub, and is used as a ticket office, information centre and performance venue during the Edinburgh Festival.
Currently under construction, hence the use of this artist's impression is a new luxury housing development at the former State Cinema in Leith. The 83-year-old building's auditorium has been demolished, but the iconic art deco frontage is being restored.
When the old Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was vacated in 2003 and hospital services relocated to a new site at Little France, there were fears over what would become of the original 19th century buildings. Thankfully, their best features have been retained as part of the luxury Quartermile housing development.
One of the most recent examples of an Edinburgh landmark that has found an exciting new use, the former Frasers department store at the West End is currently in the process of being transformed into a world-class whisky tourism hub by Johnnie Walker.