Leader: Muirhouse plan - ‘It is vital to debate this scheme now’

Share this article
Have your say

We don’t know how Malcolm Fraser’s Muirhouse block will be viewed in 50 years’ time.

Will it be an iconic example of 2012 design, a blot on the landscape, or a non-descript block unworthy of comment? We certainly would not go as far as some councillors in branding it “architecturally vacant”.

But what we do know is Edinburgh does not have a great track record when it comes to creating the buildings of the future.

With few exceptions, modern times have seen the creation of far too many soulless estates, consisting of identical blocks with seemingly little visual merit.

And that, for a city which is world renowned for the quality of its architecture in the Old and New Town World Heritage Sites, should not be allowed to continue.

Failing to demand the highest possible standards in every construction project would be an insult to those who built the Athens of the North in the first place.

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some buildings which are derided from the off will end up eventually being viewed as classics.

The jury may still be out on the Scottish Parliament but whatever you think about it, it has become an iconic Edinburgh landmark.

So while we do not know how the Muirhouse development will be viewed by future generations, it is vital to debate it now and not after bricks and mortar are in place. As regeneration projects get under way it is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past rather than inadvertently repeat them.

The architectural abominations of the 1960s in particular are being gradually corrected with projects including the massive St James redevelopment.

At the same time, we have to be careful not to give the planners of the future any new work to do in ripping down the eyesores of 2012.

Cover stories

With Sir Peter Blake producing an updated version of his iconic Sgt Pepper artwork to celebrate his 80th birthday, we took that as the green light to have a go at our own.

The result is a light-hearted celebration of the great, the good and a couple not so good who have made their mark on the Capital in their own way.

The debate over who should have been included will no doubt rage but it is by no means intended to be a definitive roll of honour.

Instead, like Sgt Pepper’s band, our artwork is just guaranteed to raise a smile.