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Revealed: winner of Edinburgh’s Ross Pavilion contest

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A team led by US practice wHY has won the international contest to design a £25 million visitor centre and performance space in West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

The firm, working with Edinburgh-based GRAS and Groves-Raines Architects, was chosen as the unanimous winner ahead of six other shortlisted bids drawn up by such architectural stars as Adjaye Associates, BIG and Sou Fujimoto (see full list bottom).

More than 125 teams entered the Malcolm Reading Consultants-organised contest to design the new pavilion below Edinburgh Castle – a project backed by the Ross Development Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council.

The jury praised wHY’s concept design as ‘a beautiful and intensely appealing proposal that complemented, but did not compete with, the skyline of the city and the castle.’

The ’landscape-focused scheme’ was applauded for respecting the historic setting but also ‘animating the gardens through the introduction of a new undulating promenade, transformed access from Princes Street, sculptural seating and dynamic open views.’

The brief called for an ‘outstanding team’ to deliver a landmark venue on a prominent site beneath Edinburgh Castle within the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Zone as well as improvements to the surrounding park. 

The pavilion will replace the 1935 Ross Bandstand, which hosts the city’s Hogmanay celebrations and the Edinburgh International Festival’s closing fireworks concert. In recent years the bandstand has fallen into disrepair.

Competition jury chair Norman Springford said: ‘We thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the shortlisted teams and understanding each approach.

’However with wHY, they demonstrated an impressive collaboration which respects and enhances the historical context and backdrop of the castle and the city, while creating new heritage and increasing the green space within the gardens – all of which were key aspects for us all and respected the importance of the space within a World Heritage Site.’

Malcolm Reading of Malcolm Reading Consultants said: ‘wHY is a creative force that has the rare skill of being able to produce design that is exciting yet also sensitive and humane – it is a delight to see them win so exuberantly.

It is a delight to see them win so exuberantly

Their proposal is a landscape scheme that is really more like an energy field; using animation and drama as well as open vistas, they transform the gardens and create an experience that is much freer and organic.

He added: ‘As is their style, they conscientiously sampled local opinion, and have come up with a design proposal that is engaging and refreshing.’

The wHY team will now work with the trust, the council and other stakeholders to take forward the project. Construction is expected to begin in 2018.

Factfile

wHY is a collective of architects, landscape designers, makers and strategic thinkers, established in  2004 and with offices in New York and Los Angeles. The studio’s competition-winning entry was led by founder and creative director Kulapat Yantrasast and landscape design director Mark Thomann.

The finalists in full

wHY with GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth
Adjaye Associates with Morgan McDonnell, BuroHappold Engineering, Plan A Consultants, JLL, Turley, Arup, Sandy Brown, Charcoalblue, AOC Archaeology, Studio LR, FMDC, Interserve and Thomas & Adamson
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
with JM Architects, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, GROSS.MAX., Charcoalblue, Speirs + Major, JLL, Alan Baxter and People Friendly
Flanagan Lawrence with Gillespies, Expedition Engineering, JLL, Arup and Alan Baxter
Page \ Park Architects, West 8 Landscape Architects and BuroHappold Engineering with Charcoalblue and Muir Smith Evans
Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter with GROSS.MAX., AECOM, Charcoalblue, Groves-Raines Architects and Forbes Massie Studio
William Matthews Associates and Sou Fujimoto Architects with BuroHappold Engineering, GROSS.MAX., Purcell, Scott Hobbs Planning and Filippo Bolognese

Ross Pavilion WINNER: wHY Architecture with GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth

Ross Pavilion WINNER: wHY Architecture with GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth

Ross Pavilion WINNER: wHY Architecture with GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth [model]

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