Festival Square, Images, Buildings, Architect, Project, Images, Design, Info
Festival Square Edinburgh : Architecture
Lothian Road Development, Scotland
Buildings adjacent to Festival Square:
The Sean Connery Filmhouse is proposed by Richard Murphy for this barren Edinburgh square.
Editorial: February 2001
With the Edinburgh Park Competition (Burrell Company) winner announced – not the most adventurous of schemes – and the completion of the landmark Princes Exchange building at Tollcross this month we are focusing on the contemporary public realm: what is it? is it endangered? who controls it’s creation?
Recent reports suggest Edinburgh’s architecture is blossoming, but buildings just completed on Lothian Road, in Leith and in Edinburgh Park suggest otherwise. Although there were many bold and imaginative projects for the Edinburgh Park Competition, none were chosen or even commended. We continue to find corporate clients building faceless power buildings which don’t engage with locals or locality.
Blank, scaleless street frontages and windy car parks abound, and on Lothian Road so-called public squares, unused but by the companies and their clients: the press briefings make much of public routes and piazzas but these raised spaces sit immediately adjacent to large corporations’ office entrances: not places to linger if unconnected to the owner. The routes from say Festival Square – or Ceaucescu Plaza as Murray Grigor labelled it – lead to a hotel rubbish skip, the immense blank wall of Hurd Rolland’s Edinburgh One, or to a blocked up stairway down to the car park. There is little hierarchy of scale, especially a lack of smaller scales. The spaces – as well as the built form – are soulless in a way that is not concomitant with this great city of ours. The masterplan for this area seems to have as much backbone as a chocolate eclair: how did internationally-renowned architects, Terry Farrell, come up with such a mind-numbing and people-unfriendly arrangement? Why was it allowed by the Council? How do we stop this happening again? By getting involved.
Part of the same ‘Exchange’ masterplan, the Scottish Widows building boasted public routes but these appear blocked at present and always at night. Standard Life’s public route is a gloomy ‘tunnel’ emerging into a fairly uncelebrated chasm. The over-scaled bridge between the insenstive Clydesdale Plaza and the shiny ‘bit of Croydon’ (Baillie Gifford) is also blocked, so pedestrians have to return to Lothian Road and cross the traffic highway.
Our city requires some sensitivity, celebration, diversity, sense of place: just look at what John Hope has done in Holyrood and imagine this bottom-up approach applied to the rest of Edinburgh. Different localities will throw up different scenarios but the engagement must become rooted once again in the context of Edinburgh.
This is not any old city!
Edinburgh Filmhouse – New Proposal, Apr 2008
Robert Adam Architect
Buildings / photos for the Festival Square Architecture pages welcome
Festival Square Edinburgh – Building : page