Ross Pavilion redesign: Water runs through Danish design

BIG architects propose an undulating canopy for the Prince Street Gardens redesign
BIG architects propose an undulating canopy for the Prince Street Gardens redesign
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Edinburgh Castle atop the rocky outcrop is framed by a transparent “undulating canopy” to allow seamless views, in a proposal by Copenhagen based architects BIG.

The firm, also based in 
New York and London, has established a worldwide 
reputation for its innovative designs working on major projects for huge institutions including the Smithsonian and Google.

And in its design for a new pavilion to replace the Ross Bandstand, BIG Partner Brian Yang said linking architectural design methods and the natural landscape was key.

He explained: “The geometry of the canopy of the pavilion is sculpted by the topography of the Gardens – imagine if it were simply draped into the valley in which it sits – and from within frames the dramatic setting of the Castle.

“We have suggested that the canopy be constructed from bead blasted stainless steel so that there is a certain degree of reflectivity that will allow it to playfully reflect the light and atmospheres of the surrounding sky and garden.”

The team, incorporating JM Architects, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, GROSS.MAX., Charcoalblue, Speirs + Major, JLL, Alan Baxter and People Friendly, and led by firm founder Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, will also reintroduce water to the Gardens, echoing the memory of the Nor’ Loch which formerly occupied the site.

Water will also feature at the east end, near to St Cuthbert’s Church, where a circular space of Caithness stone will provide a flexible space for events but can also be overflown by a shallow sheet of water to become a mirror reflecting the Castle and act as a paddling pool in summer and an ice rink during winter.

A narrow stream will run alongside the walkway linking the spaces to create the calming effect of the sound of running water.

The connecting linear walk, which follows the bottom of the former Nor’ Loch is proposed to be enhanced as the central garden.

With a reputation for thought-provoking large-scale architecture, Mr Yang explained the pavilion design: “The circular perimeter of the canopy is imagined – not only as a continuous covered walkway providing shelter all around (to the Scottish weather) – but to also integrate functions such as lighting, stage infrastructure, and a metal mesh curtain on the perimeter so that the pavilion can be screened off for closed or ticketed events.

“We also suggest two additional possible features: the outer perimeter of the canopy for the water curtain, and a deployable roof that will allow the interior space of the pavilion to be closed off in the event of inclement weather and to make a fully sheltered seating area.”

The designs of all seven shortlisted firms are on display in a free-to-enter exhibition at the City Art Centre until July 30. The public are invited to share their views on the project via a survey at the exhibition.