‘Hobbit House’ tops poll to replace Ross Bandstand

A 'Hobbit House' has topped the poll to replace Ross Bandstand.
A 'Hobbit House' has topped the poll to replace Ross Bandstand.
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A GRASS-topped venue which is intended to blend into the landscape has topped a poll of designs to replace the historic Ross Bandstand.

Evening News readers favoured the design by American architects wHY out of the seven put forward for the new £25 million pavilion in Princes Street Gardens.

An official announcement on the blueprint which has been chosen being made on Tuesday following a lengthy judging process.

But News readers were clear on which design they liked the best – and it was the one affectionately dubbed the “Hobbit House”, narrowly beating the competition’s other grassy ­design from UK company Flanagan Lawrence in our online poll. Third in the popularity stakes was fellow UK firm Page and Park Architects, the team currently masterminding the revival of Glasgow School of Art’s Macintosh building.

Design director of wHY Grounds landscape studio, Mark Thomann told us previously that accessibility for everyone via a new promenade defined what he described as a “dream project”.

He said: “We asked what is missing? We heard that while the Gardens are a great place to be, there is a lack of accessibility or connection.”

The design aims to connect the visitor centre and theatre with a promenade between the Royal Mile and West Princes Street.

“This promenade is a linear park that connects a series of green spaces throughout the gardens,” Mr Thomann explained.

“To maximise the green space and minimise the impact of the architecture, we created green roofs and vistas.”

This includes an expanded bridge over the railway – named the children’s bridge – which the designers hope will build on the tradition of the public watching trains as they enter Waverley Station.

The design also gives a nod to the gardens’ origins as the Nor Loch, with a new flexible events plaza with play water surfaces.

Norman Springford, founder of the Apex Hotels group, has been in talks with the city council for several years about reviving the fortunes of West Princes Street Gardens by replacing the existing bandstand, which opened in 1935.

He said: “The revival of one of Edinburgh’s best and most prominent sites is a hugely exciting prospect and we now have seven fascinating design concepts from some of the world’s most in-demand creative minds.

“This isn’t just about providing a new concert venue. It’s about enhancing the whole gardens.

“We recognise it is Edinburgh’s park. It is not for any group of individuals to say ‘this is what we are having.’ That’s why we are consulting far and wide and will take all the feedback into account.

“I think we’ll get a good winner out of what we’ve got. There is clearly still a long process ahead once the winning design is chosen, including consultations with the heritage sector and the council’s planners, as well as with the designers themselves, but we are hopeful work will be finished in 2019.”

Despite its prime location in the heart of the Capital the current bandstand is now almost unusable for major events due to its run-down condition.