New ‘skin’ for ugly Edinburgh University tower

An artist's impression of the plans for Appleton Tower. Picture: comp
An artist's impression of the plans for Appleton Tower. Picture: comp
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EDINBURGH University’s “ugliest” building is set to be refurbished after years of problems.

Appleton Tower, part of the “historic” university site in George Square, is undergoing a major upgrade to improve its appearance and environmental performance.

The post-war building has always been particularly incongrous amongst some of the university’s more attractive properties, such as the recently renovated eighteenth century Old College nearby.

For some students, the tower was such an eyesore that they campaigned for it to be recognised on Channel 4’s Demolition series as one of Britain’s ugliest buildings, and TV biologist Steve Jones spoke of “the ugliness of Appleton Tower”.

There have also been concerns about the fabric of the building, with on ex-Edinburgh student admitting “the lifts scare me being old and creeky”, and addding: “The building has no opening windows and looks terrible from the outside.”

And although the view from the top of the building is spectacular – showcasing views across the city and Holyrood Park – many joke that it is only so breathtaking because the viewer is unable to see the outside of Appleton Tower itself.

The renovations will be undertaken by Glasgow construction specialist CCG (Scotland) Ltd and will see a new “skin” created over the existing tower.

The tower will also boast a new rooftop extension and a landscaped main entrance.

Further efforts are being made to satisfy environmental demands by installing new insulation and glazing.

Calum Murray, cirector of CCG (Scotland) Ltd said: “CCG is proud to work with the University of Edinburgh and support their refurbishment programme by leading on this project to transform Appleton Tower.

“The tower is a core building in the university’s portfolio and its refurbishment will both improve the building’s appearance to better integrate with surroundings and make it more efficient for the university students.”

Appleton Tower was designed in 1963 by architects Reaich and Hall, and was named in honour of the former University Principal and Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Sir Edward Appleton. The building is not only used to host the School of Infomatics, but also as a general space for research, teaching and learning.

The new building will contain upgraded teaching rooms, computer laboratories, conference rooms and social spaces in order to meet the needs of around 2000 students and staff who currently use the building every day.

A university spokesperson said that the “project is part of a major programme of investment to provide a world-class student experience and work enviornment”.

Refurbishments are also currently taking place in Bristo Square where the University is constructing an extension for its McEwan Hall.

Work on Appleton Tower is due to be completed by the end of 2016.