The Hub Edinburgh Building, Royal Mile Venue Photos, Location, Address, Design Images

The Hub Edinburgh Architecture

Royal Mile (Castlehill), Edinburgh design by Benjamin Tindall Architects

Location: Castlehill, top of the Royal Mile

Date built: 1999

Benjamin Tindall Architects

Address: The Hub Cafe & Restaurant, Castlehill, Edinburgh, Lothian EH1 2NE

Phone: 0131 473 2067

hub - ben tindall Benjamin Tindall The Hub
pictures from the architect

The Hub Edinburgh

Richly-coloured scheme amalgamating history and creativity in a famous landmark assemly hall (never specifically a church), now home to the Edinburgh International Festival offices: the Hub is celebrated by some (Youngson, for example, in his latest book – ‘;recent changes have turned it into one of the City’s most remarkable buildings‘) and villified by others (Grigor, Murphy, at the RIAS Exhibition 2000 ‘kitschification’).

The colourful interiors of the Hub seem initially attractive but do not always repay closer look. The project does however take risks and challenges the status quo with its vivid contrasts of colour and approach to conservation.

You enter The Hub, past two large chanfer-topped cylinders, through sliding glass doors into a lobby. Beyond this is a second arrival space with stairs to either side. The stone floor here gives way to blue-and-red-patterned carpet; set in the stone are two symmetrical green glass ‘tramlines’: art suffuses the Hub project and these glazed elements have an inset wavy pattern: this is certainly not traditional conservation.

The centrepiece of the Hub, at the end of the ground floor central aisle (complete with slightly intrusive neon artwork), where the lighting levels dip, is the well-lit (Kevin Shaw) vibrant red-walled staircase. The numerous paper mache sculptures – also painted red – represent Festival Arts events confusingly with sponsors below; this is an imaginative way of noting sponsorship but I wish it could be more discreet, somewhere less important.

The main space is on the first floor, patterned in blue and red paint/curtains. Offices for the Edinburgh Festival staff are above this hall in the attic spaces, under huge blue-coloured roof trusses.

Church of Scotland: Tolbooth St John’s Church
This building used to be the Church of Scotland’s Tolbooth St John’s Church, 1839-44. The tip of the 50m-high ‘black dagger’ spire is the tallest built work in Edinburgh: surprisingly it is not floodlit at night. Pugin (architect of The Houses of Parliament, London) was instrumental in achieving the drama – designing the spire, entrance vestibule and the Lord High Commissioner’s throne; the architect for the main body of the church was James Gillespie Graham.

Ben Tindall Architects inform me that ‘for its day the church was highly technically advanced building, with the earliest use of one structural elements, service systems and materials‘.

The Hub Edinburgh The Hub Benjamin Tindall, Architects
photographs © Adrian Welch

Ben Tindall Architects: The Hub

Ben Tindall Architects maintain there are two main ways of dealing with old buildings: ‘Turning the Clock Back’ or ‘Carlo Scarpa Contrast’. They maintain ‘we believe there is another approach which requires real design and professionalism: ‘Third Way’. This is an amalgam of deep understanding of the building and or site, the client’s needs, the future, the public’s needs and creativity, carried out in a sensitive manner. We believe that Design is an essential conservation technique‘.

The Hub cafe has bright yellow internal walls and external terrace facing south with large canopies: Cafe Hub

James Simpson in Prospect Jul 2004 praises The Hub as ‘good conservation’.

The Hub Castlehill
photo © Adrian Welch

Café Hub
The Hub, Castlehill (top of Royal Mile)
+44 (0)131 473 2067 fax 473 2016

The Cafe Hub’s yellow interior, south-facing terrace is contained in a building partly by Pugin, refurbished by Benjamin Tindall Architects. The Café space sits south off the Hub’s ground-floor axis: walk ahead, then left.

Café Hub opening times – at time of writing: Mon-Sun 8am-11pm

Hub view from Museum of Scotland
photo © Adrian Welch

Contact The Hub: [email protected]

Adjacent buildings include Edinburgh Castle and The Witchery restaurant

Contact Benjamin Tindall Architects, 17 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh 0131 220 3366

Edinburgh Walking Tours : Architecture Walking Tours

The Hub designer : Benjamin Tindall Architects

The Hub in context from Princes Street Gardens:

Hub to far left on skyline, New College silhouette in middle, RSA in foreground to right
RSA Edinburgh
Edinburgh buildings photo © Adrian Welch

Another Pugin building : Houses of Parliament London

Scottish Parliament

Hotel Missoni Edinburgh

Benjamin Tindall Architects Project in Edinburgh:

Palace of Holyroodhouse Gallery (Queens Gallery)

Castle Esplanade
photo © Adrian Welch

Image above showing Earl Haig with, beyond, Ramsey Gardens on left, Outlook Tower and the Hub on the right

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