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Ministers urged to overrule decision on Jestico + Whiles’ Edinburgh hotel


A petition has launched calling on Scottish ministers to overturn Edinburgh Council’s decision to grant planning to a controversial hotel within the city’s St James masterplan

So far 392 people have signed the petition calling on MSPs to overturn the hotel’s planning decision.

Earlier this week councillors ignored the recommendation of officers to refuse the Jestico + Whiles-designed scheme.

Planning officers had concluded that the 173-bed building was higher and bulkier than the dimensions approved in an outline planning application for the former St James shopping centre.

The 210-room hotel, which will be the ‘centrepiece’ to the £850 million Edinburgh St James redevelopment, will feature a ‘lofty bar, lounge and restaurant space boasting 360 degree panoramic views over’ the Scottish capital.

The ten storey egg-shaped building will be wreathed in a bundle of bronze ribbons which curl into a raised swirl at the top.

In a statement, campaign founder Lynsey Macfadyen, said: ‘We believe that this design does not fit in with Edinburgh’s historical and beautiful look and would be better suited elsewhere.’

The scheme had already received criticism from the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland which said the building would dominate the St James quarter and key views of the New Town.

Jestico + Whiles saw off competition from Allies & Morrison, KPF and WATG (Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo) to win the job to design the hotel back in March.

Backed by TIAA Henderson Real Estate, the wider development will replace the 1970s St James shopping mall and also includes 42,500m² of shops, office space, a digital theatre, restaurants and 250 homes.


Ministers urged to overrule decision on Jestico + Whiles’ Edinburgh hotel


Readers' comments (3)

  • Beam me up, Scotty.

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  • Alan Murrays Multrees Walk plan is a stroke of genius in the way it repairs and reconnects the urban spacial structure, destroyed by the existing St James’s Place’s insensitivity, internalisation of the public realm and tendency towards inflexible mid-century megastructure. The use of the drum set in the focal space enables the shift of axis from Multrees Walk towards Leith Walk to be made. The “background” buildings in the scheme create continuous active facades around interestingly shaped streets, with an intended style of its age yet well fitted to Edinburgh architectural heritage. His Missoni Hotel is the best so far. Just as the New Town introduced a style of its age in contrast to the Medieval style of the Old Town, so this introduces a new quarter of its age whilst retaining the golden rules of streets with facades just described. It’s a masterplan of its time equalled only by Paternoster in London, and if well executed could be even better.
    All good urban plans have their “one-off” centrepiece buildings, visible in full round as works of stand alone sculptural form, in contrast to the continuous facades of the background buildings that create their setting and line and create the walls of the streets. Such buildings create a complex of spaces around themselves. The Pantheon in Rome, Bath Abbey and the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford are such. So such a building has to be “special”, of its age. The new Southgate scheme in Bath creates such a complex, but is in the end dull because it lacks such a centrepiece, and because the architecture is a second rate pastiche of a previous age, inevitably irreconcilable with 20th century technology, construction practices and lack of artisans on low enough wages to allow it to be adequately embellished. It has the feel of a dull set piece, or as the French appropriately say “Nature Morte”. If its architects wanted to be classical designers, why couldn’t they at least be good ones. (I would say the same of the other “traditionalists” who currently make so much noise in the media for their skills to used. They operate stylistically in a very limited market and none are worthy of such a commission. None have the interpretive genius of Adam, Cockerell or Playfair, or even JJ Burnett in his early transition from classical to the seeds of contemporary.)
    And so Alan Murrays scheme succeeds in creating a setting and intent “off its time”.
    So what of Jestico And Wyles scheme? The argument that in the context described above it is not appropriate for Edinburgh is completely destroyed. It is absolutely appropriate that a modern icon should be created, and should poke up to join the famous Edinburgh skyline. But as the main man at Pixar has said “All our movies are very poor when we start off. It takes the collaborative effort of all of us, given a great deal of time, to make them great”. So instead of nit picking at the initial concept, involve a small number of highly regarded non-starchitect non pri madonas to represent Edinburgh interests, (Alan Murray for starters) and don’t let it be built until its designers have been give adequate time and fees to make it really great.

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  • Typo: St James Place!

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