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Chipperfield’s Edinburgh concert hall ‘will ruin views’, say campaigners


Heritage campaigners are opposing David Chipperfield Architects’ Edinburgh concert hall which they say is ‘too large and too tall’ and will ruin views of a neighbouring listed building

The competition-winning scheme for the new £45 million venue in the heart of New Town off St Andrew Square was submitted to the City Council in August.

Backed by performing arts charitable trust IMPACT Scotland, the 1,000-capacity concert venue will be Edinburgh’s first dedicated new space for music and the performing arts in 100 years. 

But the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS) has objected to the plans, arguing that the building will ‘tower over’ Dundas House, which was built in 1774 and still operates as a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

In a formal objection submitted to the City Council, AHHS wrote: ‘While we welcome the proposal to build a new concert venue, we have concerns regarding the excessive scale and massing of the proposed extension, which, far from being subordinate to the listed building, will tower above it.

‘The proposal is too large and too tall for such a restricted plot, surrounded as it is by listed buildings, and as such represents an overdevelopment of the site. We’re also concerned about the way the proposed concert hall butts up against Dundas House.’

The concert hall venue is also opposed by developers behind the £469 million St James shopping complex, TH Real Estate (THRE), who argue its height would block views from the new W Hotel, designed by Jestico + Whiles.

According to The Times, THRE’s development director Martin Perry wrote a letter to local residents urging them to object to IMPACT’s plans, sparking a row with the charitable trust.

Its chairman, Ewan Brown, said the trust was ‘considering appropriate action’ the over the letter which he said contained a number of ‘factual inaccuracies’ about the project.

Chipperfield’s London studio won the high-profile scheme in May 2017, seeing off competition from Adjaye Associates, Allies and Morrison, Richard Murphy Architects, Toronto-based KPMB Architects and Swiss outfit Barozzi Veiga.

The 10,000m² project, which has received the support of Edinburgh heritage body the Cockburn Association, also includes a 200-seat studio theatre and rehearsal, recital and recording spaces.

A joint statement issued by Chipperfield Architects and Impact said: ’The overwhelming support we have received from the public, local businesses, community and heritage bodies, throughout the process so far, has been very encouraging. 

’This is a much-needed venue, in an ideal central location which will bring a welcome cultural and community focused addition to the surrounding retail and hotel developments.’

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


Project data

Competition 2017
Completion due 2021
Client lMPACT Scotland
Architect David Chipperfield Architects
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


Related files

  • Plan

    PDF, Size 18.23 kb

Readers' comments (2)

  • If the proposed concert hall would block views from the new W Hotel, as claimed, then by the same token Chipperfield's design might hopefully reduce the impact of Jestico + Whiles' creation on the New Town - a free bonus.

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  • It would be good to see the view down North Bridge on axis with Register House.

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