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Chipperfield’s Edinburgh concert hall sent back to the drawing board

  • 8 Comments

David Chipperfield Architects is to redesign and scale back its designs for a £45 million concert hall in Edinburgh in a move to avert a costly legal battle

In April the practice got the go-ahead for a new home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra featuring a 1,000-seat auditorium and 200-seat studio on a site next to the proposed Edinburgh St James retail and hotel-led development.

But, shortly after approval, the plans, backed by the International Music and Performing Arts Charitable Trust (Impact) Scotland, were subject to a legal challenge by Nuveen Real Estate, the developer of the neighbouring 80,000m² St James scheme.  

In July 2019 Nuveen, which had concerns about the concert hall’s height, scale and mass, petitioned the Court of Session for a judicial review of the planning permission granted by Edinburgh City Council.

However, Impact backed down in a mediation process overseen by the council and the judicial review will now be avoided. Impact confirmed it would be retaining the practice to work on a fresh application.

Martin Perry, director of Nuveen Real Estate said: ‘We welcome the initiative to substantially reduce the size of the concert hall and we are happy to work with Impact Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council as [the team] develops a new design which addresses our principal concerns.

He added: ‘We hope the new design will better accord with the aspirations for this quarter of the city.’

Ewan Brown, chair of Impact, said he was ‘hugely encouraged by the positive discussions we have had with [Nuveen Real Estate]’, adding: ‘[We] look forward to continuing to work with them to deliver a world-class concert hall.’

The concert hall, as originally proposed, would sit behind an architectural jewel in central Edinburgh – Dundas House, the 1774 home of landowner and politician Lawrence Dundas.

Nuveen was not the only opponent of Chipperfield’s scheme. In 2018 the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland objected to the plans, arguing that the building would ‘tower over’ Dundas House. 

Despite the objections, the council’s planning committee narrowly approved the proposal.

Adam McVey, leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said he was ’delighted’ that an agreement had been struck between the parties. He added: ’This is an important new venue for our city and in one of the most sustainable locations, with fantastic public transport connections. We will now work with Impact Scotland and Edinburgh St James to continue the delivery of the regeneration of the east end of the city centre.’

Original project data

Competition 2017
Original completion due date 2021
Client Impact Scotland
Architect David Chipperfield Architects
Project director Alasdair Graham
Project architect Johannes Feder
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 consultant 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

  • 8 Comments

Related files

  • Plan

    PDF, Size 18.23 kb

Readers' comments (8)

  • Hopefully the bulk of the concert hall can be reduced without compromising its size.

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  • It's no surprise that the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland objected, that organisation is still rooted in the 18th century. The idea that Chipperfield's concert hall would "tower over" Dundas House was ridiculous. It's difficult to imagine a concert hall more respectful of its context and setting or a team more capable of delivering a world class venue..

    However, I thought that Nuveen Real Estate's primary objection concerned service access, but apparently, according to the Times it's so that a 360 degree view from their ribbon hotel can be preserved. Not only surprising but bizarre given that it's difficult to imagine a building less respectful of its setting and context, ,y,know in my view .

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  • Edinburgh nimbyism strikes again!

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  • Is 'the ribbon hotel' a polite term for the 'golden turd', Mr Dunlop?

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  • Yes, I believe so. Anyone interested in context, setting and in Edinburgh should put "Ribbon Hotel Edinburgh" in any search engine and compare.

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  • Not often I agree with you Alan but you couldn't have said it better, the ribbon hotel is one of the least contextual pieces of architecture (and I use that term loosely) I have ever seen. Chipperfield's concert hall is the antithesis is almost every way. The fewer views of the ribbon the better IMO!

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  • Also referred to as the 'walnut whip' (probably by that sector of Edinburgh society inclined to take tea at the cafe in the National Portrait Gallery), the impact of the 'ribbon hotel' must surely reinforce the increasing disquiet at the corrosive effect of too much tourism on the character of this city.
    And the sensibilities of the planning authority don't appear to have evolved greatly since the dark days when the University of Edinburgh was allowed to smash up the urban fabric within its grasp.

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  • Not often? Really? I find that very hard to believe.

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