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Richard Murphy reveals £50m ‘temple for film’ concept in Edinburgh

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Richard Murphy Architects has revealed concept designs for a £50 million cinema complex for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, billed as the first of its kind in the UK

The new 11-storey building is planned for the middle of Festival Square on Lothian Road and, according to backers, will be a ’21st-century temple for film’.

Proposed by the Centre for the Moving Image, a new body formed by the merging of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Edinburgh Filmhouse cinema, the complex will include six screens, an auditorium and a rooftop screening and events space.

The project, currently at pre-planning stage, also includes a seventh theatre with a feature window with views out to the nearby Usher Hall and Castle, which will be replaced by the screen when a film is about to start.

According to the backers, the project will bring the ‘underused’ Festival Square to life and provide a ’striking addition to Edinburgh’s architectural landscape’.

Richard Murphy Architects was appointed in 2019 to undertake two feasibility studies, one looking at a complete rebuild of the existing Filmhouse site on Lothian Road and the second to look again at Festival Square.

The Centre for the Moving Image decided to progress with the Festival Square option. Founder Richard Murphy said the practice had responded to the challenge of placing a building within an existing square by designing a ‘lozenge-shaped’ complex with a minimal footprint.

Ken Hay, CEO of Centre for the Moving Image said: ’For more than 40 years Filmhouse has been at the centre of Edinburgh’s cultural life and, for more than 70 years, Edinburgh International Film Festival has been an international beacon for film and film culture. 

‘Through doubling the number of screens and seats for regular cinema-goers, creating dedicated education and learning spaces, and developing an iconic festival centre, all within a fully accessible and carbon-neutral building, this really is a 21st century temple for film.’

A public consultation will be held for 12 weeks until 3 June, with a planning application expected by the end of the year.

It is hoped construction might start in 2023.

3 usher hall roof copy

3 usher hall roof copy

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