But what happens when a building is purpose-built for a commercial or social entity that no longer occupies it? We take a look at 9 fascinating examples of preserved Edinburgh buildings that have successfully been handed a new lease of life.
Dovecot Studios is housed within Edinburgh's first public Victorian swimming pool building and datesfrom the 1880s. It was opened as a response to an outbreak of cholera in the city.
This red brick beauty is all that remains of the North British Rubber Company's Castle Mills factory. Built in 1870, it is now an arts hub occupied by Edinburgh Printmakers.
As the name above the door might suggest, The Fishmarket is housed alongside fellow restaurant Loch Fyne within the old timber-built Newhaven fishmarket.
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Leith's main police hub occupies the impressive neoclassical edifice that was once home to Leith Town Hall. It was built in 1828 at a time when Leith was a separate burgh from Edinburgh.
Opened in 1923, the Caley Picture House was a city centre cinema palace for more than 60 years. A stint as a nightclub and gig venue followed and it has since been converted into a Wetherspoon 'superpub'.
A building more storied than most now fittingly houses the People's Story Museum. Previously used as a court house and a jail, Canongate Tolbooth dates from 1591 when the district was separate from Edinburgh.
Close to home this one, this was of course the grand Edwardian-built offices of The Scotsman newspaper. The hotel opened in 2001, a couple of years after the last journos moved out.
Dating back to 1827, this castellated little building served to deter would-be graverobbers from pinching cadavers at the St Cuthbert's cemetery. Today it serves as Edinburgh's pokiest rent-able office space.
One of the latest buildings to find a new lease of life is the former Binns/House of Fraser department store at the West End. Built in the 1930s, whisky giants Johnnie Walker seek transform the art deco gem into a 'world-class' whisky hub.