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Chipperfield lodges plans for Scottish Chamber Orchestra scheme

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New images have been released of David Chipperfield Architects’ £45 million home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Edinburgh after the scheme was submitted for planning

The practice’s London studio won an international competition for the high-profile scheme in May 2017, when it was selected ahead of Adjaye Associates, Allies and Morrison, Richard Murphy Architects, Toronto-based KPMB Architects and Swiss outfit Barozzi Veiga.

The 1,000-capacity concert venue will be built on a gap site off St Andrew Square in Edinburgh New Town, behind the head office of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Replacing an ’unremarkable office building’ and behind the Category A-listed Dundas House (1771), the 10,000m² project also includes a 200-seat studio theatre and rehearsal, recital and recording spaces.

The practice, which is working with executive architects Reiach and Hall, claims the venue’s massing reflects that of the surrounding Neoclassical buildings and that the colour of its concrete skin will ’pick up the various sandstones found in the New Town’.

Backed by performing arts charitable trust IMPACT Scotland, the scheme will become Edinburgh’s first dedicated new space for music and the performing arts in 100 years.

The project received a boost earlier this month after Westminster and Holyrood agreed a funding package to boost economic growth in the Edinburgh City Region, a deal which included cash for the concert hall (see AJ 09.08.18).

Completion is scheduled for 2021.

Design evolution chipperfield scottish chamber

Design evolution of David Chipperfield Architects’ Scottish Chamber Orchestra plans

Design evolution of David Chipperfield Architects’ Scottish Chamber Orchestra plans

Architect’s view

On an urban level the building seeks to do two things: resolve the immediate urban conditions of the site, which is relatively concealed and at the intersection of several distinct neighbourhoods; and provide a fitting terminus at the end of George Street, the New Town’s principal axis, in a position where a grand public building was originally intended to be built.

The building’s functions are distributed within three simple, compact and intersecting volumes. The concert hall sits in the centre of the site within a pure oval volume; its shape and scale dictated by the acoustic requirements. Its elliptical form is topped by a shallow dome – an urban gesture which terminates the axial view west along George Street, with Dundas House prominently in the foreground.

The venue’s overlapping lower volumes are orthogonal in form and house its ancillary and public functions. These help to reduce the overall mass of the building and anchor it within the scale, geometry and atmosphere of the surrounding streets and neighbouring buildings. Overall, the venue seeks to form an urban composition centred around Dundas House, in balance with the prominent civic structures at the opposite end of George Street.

The façades of the new venue relate to the architecture of the New Town in both their order and materiality. The expression of a base, middle and top, found on other neoclassical buildings, is picked up by the composition of the venue’s massing while the texture and tone of its concrete picks up the various sandstones found in the New Town. The metal-clad dome completes the crown of the building, announcing its public nature and aligning with the other civic buildings across the city.

The foyer will be a new public room for the city, open outside of performance hours

In vertical arrangement, the main concert hall is lifted above the ground, freeing the entire entrance level for an open foyer with three entrances addressing the different approaches. This continuous ground plane increases permeability across the previously closed off site and seamlessly unites the venue with the diverse urban conditions that surround it. The foyer will be a new public room for the city, open outside of performance hours. It encompasses all the main public functions of the venue: information, ticketing, cloakroom and café, and can host informal performances, exhibitions and events. A fourth entrance, directly from the grand domed banking hall of Dundas House can be used for special gatherings or ceremonial openings.

From the foyer staircases lead up to the main concert hall or down to the studio at basement level. Corridors wrap around the main auditorium at each level, providing access, acoustic isolation and break-out space. Around the upper level, a colonnaded promenade directly below the dome offers visitors a meeting space with 360 degree views of the city. Terraces to the north and south, on the roofs of the secondary volumes provide open-air gathering spaces.

Section chipperfield impact

Section chipperfield impact


Project data

Competition 2017
Completion due 2021
Client lMPACT Scotland
Architect David Chipperfield Architects, London
Directors David Chipperfield, Louise Dier, Billy Prendergast
Project director Alasdair Graham
Project architect Johannes Feder
Team Freddie Armitage, Matt Ball, Nick Beissengroll, Micha Gamper, Jochen Glemser, Sofia Gozzi, Christopher Harvey, Rory Hughes, Daniel Itten, Craig Johnston, Antonio Mazzolai, Matthias Odazzi, Charlie Proctor, Simonpietro Salini, Jana Schwalb
Executive architect Reiach and Hall Architects
Landscape architect GROSS.MAX
Structural engineer Whitby Wood
Services engineer Arup
Lighting consultant Arup
Façade consultant Thornton Tomasetti
Acoustic consultants Nagata Acoustics (hall and studio), Arup (venue)
Fire protection Atelier Ten
Quantity surveyor Turner & Townsend
Project management Turner & Townsend
Gross floor area 10,000m²

Plan chipperfield impact

Plan chipperfield impact

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Readers' comments (1)

  • For all that the concrete facades are reticent, forming a backdrop to Dundas House - and seem a good deal more subtle in their developed form - they're surely still rather uneasily related to the architecture of the New Town, as demonstrated by image 3/16, where the massive oversailing wall corner seems very Chipperfield-style.

    The six finalists in the architectural competition were apparently funded to develop their designs, but I can't recollect the AJ ever having published these. Surely - on this site, in this city - we deserve to see what the other architects were proposing?

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