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Chipperfield sees off stars to win £45m Scottish Chamber Orchestra venue


David Chipperfield Architects has won the contest to design a £45 million home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Edinburgh, beating David Adjaye Associate and Richard Murphy Architects

Also in the running were Toronto-based KPMB Architects, Swiss outfit Barozzi Veiga and Allies and Morrison.

The judges described Chipperfield’s scheme as ‘intriguing’ and ’well-expressed’.

The project, backed by the International Music and Performing Arts Charitable Trust (IMPACT Scotland), will create a 1,000-capacity concert hall for the orchestra and for the Edinburgh International Festival, held across several local venues every summer.

The building, planned to complete in 2020, will be constructed on a gap site off St Andrew Square in Edinburgh New Town, behind the head office of the Royal Bank of Scotland (pictured below). The development will also include rehearsal, recital and recording spaces.

IMPACT Scotland’s chair, Ewan Brown said: ‘The jury … concluded that David Chipperfield Architects is a highly skilled team led by a strong and confident architect. Their approach to designing the interior of the new venue was intriguing, well-expressed and demonstrated a desire to create spaces that would welcome visitors and performers alike.

‘In addition, the team showed sensitivity to the design challenges that would be faced in creating a venue with exceptional, world-class acoustics.’

Gavin Reid, chief executive of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a trustee of IMPACT Scotland, added: ‘David Chipperfield Architects demonstrated a real understanding of the requirements of a 21st-century cultural centre and how to merge it sensitively with the existing environment.’

The two-stage contest, organised by Colander Associates, received 69 entries, with each of the six finalists receiving £10,000 to draw up their designs.

St Andrews Square, Edinburgh

St Andrews Square, Edinburgh

Source: Image by Thunderwing


The full shortlist

  • Adjaye Associates (London) with Sandy Brown, Buro Happold and DHA Designs
  • Allies and Morrison (London) with Charcoalblue, Speirs & Major, Harrison Stevens and Buro Happold
  • Barozzi Veiga (Switzerland) with Alan Baxter, Max Fordham, KahleAcoustics, 3DReid and Ian White Associates
  • David Chipperfield Architects (London) with Arup, Whitby Mohajer Engineers, GROSS MAX and Theatre Projects
  • KPMB Architects (Toronto) with Simpson & Brown Architects, David Narro Associates, Arup, Sound Space Vision, rankinfraser landscape architecture and Transsolar Energietechnik
  • Richard Murphy Architects (Edinburgh) with Arup, Graven Images, GROSS MAX and Montagu Evans

Readers' comments (6)

  • The 'gap site' behind the RBS on Thistle Street is presumably the space officially termed 'Thistle Court' - flanked by traditional town houses of some character (particularly in comparison to the 20th century banality around them) - and it would be instructive to have some images of how the Chipperfield scheme will fit in this space - or is there to be some demolition?

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  • Hello, the wrong image was initially used. The new building is planned for behind Dundas House (36 St Andrew Square). The contest selected an architect only and plans have yet to be developed for the site. Thank you

  • Why are you showing a picture of Standard Life Offices on George Street?The RBS Head Quarters are at 36 St Andrews Square on the other side of the square and the site for the new venue is behind them.

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  • The image has now been updated. Thank you

  • Your headline shows great confusion about the nature of the architecture profession! Chipperfield *is* a starchitect, and on that list of candidates, I think he is one of the top two in terms of star status (with Adjaye).

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  • For George Showman - he's certainly a very good architect, but how can you rank 'starchitects' when their work is so dissimilar? - and David Chipperfield's work has occasionally been seen to fit uneasily in its context.

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  • For the Editor: The plot thickens: there is no obvious gap site behind Dundas House on Google Earth - which is admittedly surprisingly out of date (predating the building of the tram line). Even the demolition of the St James Centre doesn't appear to create a site, as its rebuilding seems to closely envelop the ghastly new centrepiece 'golden turd' / 'walnut whip' hotel project, to fully occupy the original site.
    Surely a site location plan should accompany this sort of news item - and it's not unreasonable to expect the promoters of such a project to be able to provide one.

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  • Phil Parker

    Is the AJ gong to publish this scheme and the other entrants in detail? When i say detail, not just a couple of computer renders.

    Why hasnt the AJ said who the jury was?

    Come on AJ - get with it!

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