Dancing the Scottish heritage tune By Deborah Singmaster. Photographs by Francesca Yorke
Greig + Stephenson has refurbished two adjacent buildings on Princes Street, Edinburgh, to create Scotland's largest-ever music store for hmv. The project has restored several heritage treasures on the site, and provided citizens and visitors with yet more stunning views of the Castle and Princes Street Gardens, in a city already spoilt for viewpoints and new landmarks.
Greig + Stephenson has worked with hmv on several projects, including the £5 million refurbishment of the chain's London flagship store in Oxford Street. The catalyst for the Edinburgh project was hmv's acquisition of the No 130 Princes Street, the site adjacent to its existing store. No 130 has the oldest listed shopfront on Princes Street and contains other listed features, including a magnificent original roof lantern. The £2.5 million brief called for the integration of the two buildings into a single unit of 1700m2 and the complete refurbishment of both buildings informed by a sensitive response to the historic and geographical significance of the site.
The carved timber Georgian front of 130 has been painstakingly restored to its former glory; in contrast, the front of 129 is strikingly modern, with a flame-finished black granite surround, two central stainless steel columns, structural glazing and a massive 6m x 4m opening leading directly to the new escalator core. The installation of escalators and lifts for disabled access was an essential aspect of the refurbishment, and a major part of the improved circulation system and upgrading of fire safety provision.
The major interior architectural feature, the lantern rooflight (covered over by previous retailers) was removed, restored and replaced. Another huge gain is the exploitation of the bay window in the classical department. This has been pulled forward from the main facade and rests on the steel columns outside the entrance; it is fitted with sofas so that customers can sit and contemplate the view of the castle - with 'Nessun Dorma' soaring through the sound system in the background.
The store has three floors: a clubby basement with singles, games and eight demonstration units; the ground floor with chart and dance music and the first floor with video department, specialist and classical sections. Different floors are denoted by colour, largely achieved by varied lighting schemes. Services are exposed, in keeping with young punters' preference for that gritty 'industrial' feel, whereas a conventional ceiling caters for the perceived conservatism of buffs upstairs in the classical department.
Generosity of scale is the hallmark of the scheme: prominent signage; two large-scale video walls on the ground and first floors to draw customers into the building's heart; double-buggy width aisles, enabling parents with children to browse in comfort, and full-height night-time lighting in hmv's corporate blue, establishing the store as an unmistakable and unmissable destination on Princes Street, even if it is a few paces beyond Edinburgh's main shopping hub.
Greig + Stephenson
LANDLORD'S STRUCTURAL ENGINEER:
Ove Arup & Partners Scotland
LANDLORD'S PROJECT MANAGER:
LANDLORD'S MAIN CONTRACTOR:
QUANTITY SURVEYOR HMV:
SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS:
mechanical Exact Management Services and Excel; electrical Benbow Electrical; merchandising units Plaswood Products; lighting iGuzzini; escalators O&K Escalators; signage Arrow Signs