Sculpture garden, outdoor events, allotments and markets planned for Edinburgh’s new waterfront attraction

A sculpture garden, “event lawn”, wildflower meadows, allotments and nature trails will be created under plans for a multi-million pound cultural attraction and park on Edinburgh’s waterfront.

Sunday, 19th June 2022, 4:55 am
An artist's impression of a painting studio at The Art Works, the new National Galleries of Scotland development proposed for Granton.
An artist's impression of a painting studio at The Art Works, the new National Galleries of Scotland development proposed for Granton.

Outdoor cinema screenings, markets, large-scale works of art and new sports facilities have been proposed for a project envisaged as a cultural cornerstone of a new “coastal town” in the north of the city.

Spearheaded by the National Galleries of Scotland, it would see the creation of a building, around the size of two playing fields, where Scotland’s most important art treasures would be safeguarded.

The project, which will include modern studios for conservation and research, is expected to help the National Galleries expand its collection over the next two decades and ensure it is made more accessible than ever before.

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The Art Works attraction will be created in Granton by the National Galleries of Scotland. Image: McAslan & Partners

Both The Art Works and its art-themed grounds will be open to the public, with the development – which is billed as “a world-class hub for looking after Scotland’s national art collection” – hoped to create a new focal point for Granton.Walking and cycling routes will be created through the site as part of efforts to help ensure that the development – links north and south Granton.The project, described as “the opportunity of a lifetime” by the National Galleries, would see the complex built on a brownfield site bordered by the remains of a historic car factory dating back to 1898, retail units run by Lidl and B&M, and existing archives for Scotland’s national art and museum collections.

The new building will overlook the Firth of Forth on Waterfront Avenue, where an “entrance plaza” is envisaged, while architects McAslan & Parners have earmarked a site for a “landform”, similar to the garden which links the two modern art gallery buildings in Edinburgh.

An official consultation brochure on the project states: “The Art Works will be much more than a world-class building to care for Scotland’s national art collection.

"We’re creating a place both inside and out with the needs of the local community at its heart.

The artrium in the main entrance to The Art Works, the new attraction being pursued by the National Galleries of Scotland in Granton.

"Inside there will be social spaces and amenities for visitors’ comfort and enjoyment while, outside there will be opportunities for activity areas and bringing the environment to life.

"The landscape proposals aim to improve access through the creation of new pedestrian and cycle-routes, to provide space for active open space uses, and to improve biodiversity through new tree planting and the creation of wildflower meadows.

"A spatial framework of routes, landforms, and trees will accommodate a wide range of diverse and evolving usesfrom urban gardening and outdoor learning to events and large-scale sculptures.

“The Art Works will be a cultural focal point for the local community, offering new spaces for all to share and enjoy and will contribute to regeneration of the local area by expanding social amenities, encouraging employment, enhancing cultural activity, and providing an economic stimulus.”

The Art Works attraction will create new routes linking north and south Granton.

Sir John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries, said: “This is an incredibly exciting moment for both the National Galleries of Scotland and the communities of North Edinburgh.

“The Art Works has the potential to be truly transformative, not only in how Scotland’s national collection of art is cared for and shared more widely, but also by providing much-needed new facilities to unleash the creative confidence and spirit of the local area.”

The Art Works attraction will be created in Granton by the National Galleries of Scotland. Image: McAslan & Partners