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Exhibition: Edinburgh’s unrealised grand designs

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Unbuilt Edinburgh is a Festival of Architecture exhibition which showcases 19 unrealised proposals for the city

The works, mostly from Historic Environment Scotland’s archive collection, include ambitious design schemes and additions to some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks. The exhibition features a number of unsuccessful competition entries and proposals from leading Scottish architects and practices over the last 230 years.

Among the works on display is David Bryce’s 1862 proposal for the addition of a Memorial Keep at Edinburgh Castle to commemorate Prince Albert, which if comissioned would have altered the capital’s skyline dramatically. An unsuccessful proposal dating from 1919 from Frank Charles Mears for the Scottish National War Memorial would have seen the creation of a ‘Via Sacra’ or ‘Sacred Way’, achieved by lining the Johnston Terrace south of the castle with monuments and memorials.

As well as offering an insight into the architectural thinking and styles of the past, the exhibition charts a selection of unrealised works, design processes and plans throughout the decades. This unbuilt architectural timeline includes a 1937 proposal for the Murrayfield Ice Rink and Sports Stadium as well as a Princes Street Galleries radical competition entry of 2002.

Historic Environment Scotland’s Architecture and Industry Operational Manager and co-curator of the exhibition, Neil Gregory, said: ’Unbuilt Edinburgh offers visitors a tantalising view of what the capital could have looked like had different decisions been taken.

’These drawings help us to make sense of the cityscape that we see today. They highlight key episodes in the history of some of the city’s major landmarks and the careers of some of Scotland’s leading architects.

Unbuilt Edinburgh is on display at Architecture and Design Scotland, 9 Bakehouse Close, 146 Canongate and runs until Friday 20 May. Free. Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm (6.30pm on Thursday). Organised by the Edinburgh Architectural Association working in collaboration with Historic Environment Scotland. 

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