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Bennetts wins permission to overhaul old Edinburgh hospital

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Bennetts Associates has won approval for plans to restore and extend Edinburgh’s former Royal Infirmary Surgical Hospital

The practice will convert the category-A listed building, designed by David Bryce in the 1870s, into a new research centre for Edinburgh University. 

Proposals for the 21,300m² scheme, which will be known as the Edinburgh Futures Institute, include 6,000m² of additional space, a public piazza, gardens, and a subterranean space for events and lectures.

It is the largest project to date for the university’s £1.5 billion investment programme over the next 10 years.

Bennetts Associates director Rab Bennetts said: ‘The Edinburgh Futures Institute demonstrates the university’s ambitions, not only in the world of higher education but also in architectural patronage.

‘We are privileged to see our ideas for new interventions so readily adopted.’

Work is expected to start on site in 2018, with a completion date set for mid-2021.

Architect’s view

Edinburgh Futures Institute will bring together researchers from across the university with other partners to tackle major issues within the economy, education and societies across the world.

It will be a place that interrogates the opportunities and challenges of an age in which data and the digital disrupt old institutions and foster the creation of new ones.

This old hospital comprised multiple buildings from the 19th to the late 20th centuries including the original Royal Infirmary designed by David Bryce from 1870-1879. The architect was influenced by the ‘pavilion’ model of ward design founded by nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. Each ward was to be three storeys tall with large windows, which was thought to better circulate fresh air, combat contagion and therefore mortality rates.

With the more recent medical facilities already cleared for construction, the historic building is to be restored, extended and upgraded to form a flexible space that enables collaboration among students, staff and partner organisations. In recognition of the historic building’s importance to the wider community, the multimillion pound development will include a public piazza, garden spaces and a large subterranean multifunctional space for events and lectures.

Project data

Location Quartermile, Edinburgh
Type of project University (educational)
Client University of Edinburgh
Architect Bennetts Associates
Conservation architect Consarc
Project manager Faithful+Gould
Start on site 2018
Completion date Mid-2021

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Geoff Williams

    Obviously, the overhaul of this highly respected hospital is been given an upgrade. No doubt this will include the electrical system. The safety against fire and the security of the electrical supply is of paramount consideration. The danger of fire spread in such buildings is a constant problem to fire experts. Cables must be chosen that do not burn, generate smoke or toxic fumes. The best solution is the highly proven metal sheathed, fireproof and watertight cable system known as type MICC. Hospital fires are frequent Worldwide and are often caused by electrical malfunction.

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