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Contentious Edinburgh World Heritage Site scheme finally completes

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A controversial scheme by Hoskins Architects and Comprehensive Design Architects (CDA), which included the loss of one Edinburgh’s few Category B-listed post-war buildings, has finally completed

Plans for the new 19,000m² office, retail and luxury apartments scheme on the south side of St Andrew Square in Edinburgh’s New Town World Heritage Site first emerged more than a decade ago and were met by opposition from conservation groups concerned about the destruction of Rowand Anderson Kininmonth & Paul’s 1969 Scottish Provident Building (see AJ 23.08.06). 

The proposals stalled during the global economic crisis and work only started on site in early 2014.

Project backers Standard Life Investments and Peveril Securities said the part new build, part refurbishment on one of the city’s most sensitive sites was a vital element in the ongoing redevelopment of the east end of the New Town and revitalised the pedestrian experience of St Andrew Square.

A spokesman for the design team said: ‘The architecture is rooted in a careful analysis of the context, while the massing strategy of projections and recesses reflects the scale of the historic feus [tenures] on this side of the square.

‘A series of metal and stone fins enables the building to be very “open” when viewed directly to take advantage of extraordinary long views and to meet the tenant’s requirements for maximum daylight while appearing solid in oblique pedestrian views befitting its Georgian and Victorian sandstone neighbours.’

Nick Domminney, director of Hoskins Architects, added: ‘Creating a piece of architecture which works at the scale of the pavement, the street, the square and the city, while delivering on the exacting demands of retail and office development, has been a fascinating and daunting task.

‘With CDA we have met that challenge, and made a striking yet courteous contribution to Edinburgh’s New Town.’

The contentious remodelling of the Scottish Provident Building was only allowed after city councillors were assured elements of  the building’s façade would be reused and that the dismantling and rebuilding of its façade did not constitute demolition.

Now complete the project, which is set to be fully opened and occupied by the summer, has been criticised by architect John Deffenbaugh and 20th century heritage enthusiast.

He told the AJ: ’The loss of the Scottish Provident building is a tragedy. I don’t understand why nobody has been held to account for demolition of a listed building. If a developer were to demolish the façade of a more ‘traditional’ listed building without any form of consent, the Edinburgh heritage lobby would be up in arms.

’Historic Environment Scotland has just granted listed status on a number of 20th century buildings but the fate of Scottish Provident illustrates how little this status means in reality.’

He added: ’So the St Andrew Square development is worse off without the Scottish Provident Building. The vertical façade elements where Scottish Provident once sat are bland and uninspiring and the way in which the listed building was demolished should be deeply worrying to anyone who values 20th century heritage.’

Scottish Provident building - completed 1969 - which made way for the Hoskins Architects scheme

Scottish Provident building - completed 1969 - which made way for the Hoskins Architects scheme

Source: RIBA Collections

Scottish Provident building - completed 1969 - which made way for the Hoskins Architects scheme

Project data

Location St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
Type of project Mixed-use (office/retail/ residential)
Client Standard Life Investments and Peveril Securities
Architects Hoskins Architects; Comprehensive Design Architects (CDA)
Office fit out Perkins + Will
Planning consultant Montagu Evans
Structural engineer Blyth & Blyth
M&E consultant KJ Tait
Quantity surveyor CBA Chartered Quantity Surveyors
Lighting consultant Foto-Ma
Main contractor Bowmer & Kirkland
Start on site June 2014
Completion December 2016
Contract duration 30 months
Gross internal floor area 19,000m²
Form of contract Design and build

Sae sketch 007 early sketches

Sae sketch 007 early sketches 

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • The first image clearly demonstrates how the new building has no real relationship to human scale, unlike the adjoining building on the corner of St Andrew Square and South St Andrew Street.
    Imagine the effect on the area if this type of architecture were to become the norm.

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  • Ineffectual, non specific facadism. Hoskins, CDA are capable of better. As JD said, the developer should be held to account for the loss of an extremely important post war listed building, when stated they would retain. CEC or Council to blame?

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