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A view with a room

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Fortress, royal residence, barracks, prison - Edinburgh Castle has performed numerous functions during its long history, dating to the 12th century. It is now Scotland's main tourist attraction, visited by more than one million people a year.

The first castle cafe and restaurant was installed during the last century, in a series of cart sheds designed by Dugal Campbell and built in 1746. In 1992, the Jacobite Room, designed by RMJM Scotland, was added to the north end of the cafe and became an important venue for functions. Architectural practice Hugh Broughton and Jamie Troughton Architects has recently reorganised and refurbished both spaces.

Hugh Broughton says that 'the flow through the cafe is critical. Before, the servery was off to one side and the flow prevented customers seeing through to the Jacobite Room. We re-orientated the servery so that as you come through the doors you are alerted to the Jacobite Room beyond.

Both rooms now fill up at the same rate.'

Each room has seating space for 100 people.

Historic Scotland owns the castle, the cafe and functional facility is run by the Sodexho Prestige. Both groups worked jointly as client and collaborated closely on every step of the refurbishment, with Historic Scotland advising on aesthetic issues.

The five gable ends of the cart sheds had been filled up over the years in a variety of ways. Now they are uniformly open, and glazed with 2.7m-high glass doors giving views out to the castle.

At the start of the project, the timber structure in the cafe was 'buried under glutinous brown intumescent paint', says Broughton. 'We debated whether to remove it chemically or sand blast it.' Sand blasting was the preferred solution because it revealed the history of the timbers, warts and all: new timbers spliced into old and nails left over from previous alterations.

Previous flooring was oak and this was retained in the Jacobite Room and part of the cafe. New flooring in the front of the cafe and servery area is in olive green Acero Italian limestone, chosen because it does not show dirt and is resistant to food and oil stains; it also matches the existing oak.

The servery, in stainless steel and black granite, can be screened off at night and the cafe used as a natural foyer to the Jacobite Room. The suspended tensile canopies reduce the volume over the cafe seating area, which directs visitors through to the Jacobite Room when they arrive for evening functions


CLIENT Sodexho Prestige/ Historic Scotland

ARCHITECT Hugh Broughton & Jamie Troughton Architects

QUANTITY SURVEYOR Ralph Ogg and Partners

SERVICES ENGINEER Environmental Services Department

LIGHTING DESIGNER Jonathan Speirs and Associates

CONTRACTOR Thomas Johnstone

CHIEF CONTRACTOR AND SUPPLIERS Mini tables by Altro 'Mini' chairs from Scandinavia

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