Old Town redevelopment up for architectural prizes

A £45 MILLION development in the Old Town leads the nominations in an architecture awards shortlist dominated by Capital projects.
New buildings nestle among the old in Advocates Close. Picture: contributedNew buildings nestle among the old in Advocates Close. Picture: contributed
New buildings nestle among the old in Advocates Close. Picture: contributed

Advocates Close, a narrow lane leading off the Royal Mile that was redeveloped in 2013, is up for three prizes at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Scotland Awards.

The scheme saw a dingy alley transformed into a upmarket complex of serviced apartments, a restaurant and a bar. It has already secured a number of national and international awards.

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Edinburgh’s eight nominations range from the restoration of a 19th-century country house to the upgrading of a 1960s university building and the construction of an ultra-modern hub for developing new medical products.

Chris Stewart, who heads the development firm behind Advocates Close, said his team had been “sensitive to every detail” in undertaking the redevelopment.

He went on: “The Advocates Close development has been an innovative and transformational project, and we are delighted to have been shortlisted in three categories.

“Our five-star serviced apartments, together with a number of offices and restaurants, emerge from 15th- and 16th-century homes of wealthy Edinburgh merchants, to nestle into the ancient skyline of the city.

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“A lot of hard work has gone into the project. As a heritage location, we have been sensitive to every detail, opening up spaces and creating vistas from the top of the closes out over Princes Street Gardens towards the New Town and the north of the city.”

Also chosen in the RICS Scotland Awards’ building conservation category is Edinburgh University’s overhaul of its literatures, languages and cultures department, housed in a brutalist 1960s building in George Square.

A university spokesman said: “We’re delighted with the nomination. The project has reinvigorated this corner of George Square and has been enthusiastically embraced by both staff and students.”

The Edinburgh BioQuarter, a hub for medical innovation created by two universities and the NHS, has been picked for its gleaming new commercial building, dubbed Nine.

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Derek Ballantyne, senior manager for life sciences infrastructure at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This is excellent news for Nine and testament to its growing reputation as an unrivalled international location for translating medical discovery into clinical products whilst delivering lasting economic impact for the Scottish economy.”

The gongs will be handed out at a ceremony on April 23 at the Sheraton Hotel.

Sarah Speirs, director of RICS Scotland, said: “I am sure it will be a challenging judging process.”