By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Edinburgh big enough to beat the superblock


I can only think that professor Brian Edwards is misquoted, or quoted out of context, when he welcomes Robert Adam's plan for Leith by stating: 'Edinburgh has always been based on Neo-Classical principles.' (AJ 10.3.05) The essence of Edinburgh lies in the tension between the loosefit planning of the medieval Old Town and the planning of the Classical New Town - a recent introduction, from the late 18th century. Pre-Georgian Scottish urban planning was based around long, linear 'mercats' (markets) with narrow closes off - the classic 'fishbone' pattern - which gives the lie to the Krier brothers' dogmatic insistence that the European city consists entirely of squares, streets and blocks.

Such thinking represents the triumph of one model - the European superblock, with its overshadowed and claustrophobic back courts - over all others.

While Adam's plan (detail above) may well be humane and sensible, I'd like to think that in Edinburgh - as elsewhere - it is not considered the only approach possible.

Malcolm Fraser , Malcolm Fraser Architects, Edinburgh

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters