BDP shares ‘movement of people’ design insight at St James Quarter



Having helped complete the delivery of phase one of the new St James Quarter in Edinburgh, BDP has shared some insight into how it is designed with the movement of people in mind and delivers a real step change for retail.

The practice worked with client Nuveen Real Estate to create a new and modern 1.7 million sq ft masterplan in urban placemaking, one of the UK’s largest inner-city regeneration projects.

BDP’s Glasgow studio, which worked alongside Allan Murray Architects in the design stage, saw its role develop from co-designer to lead consultant and technical architect for the design of the scheme, and delivered the master plan as part of the Laing O’Rourke construction team for the £1b illion development. Works started on site with the demolition of the existing shopping centre, office block, hotel, and car park, in 2016 with the retail-led development seeing shoppers flock to its curved four-storey galleria since its opening in June.

Designed with movement of people in mind, St James Quarter is a highly accessible, permeable development with multiple entry points situated at different levels. The brief from the outset was to create a step change from typical retail developments and to incorporate various uses on the site that would deliver a sustainable model for development in the historic town centre. 

The design makes use of the surrounding inner-city topography, integrating with Edinburgh’s busy shopping areas and encouraging visitors to weave their way through the city. The commercial benefits to creating this organic flow of people through St James Quarter is a boosted footfall that is presented with unexpected opportunities to shop, or to dine, resulting in increased dwell time helping businesses to thrive.

Oliver Wilson, BDP architect director, said: “St James Quarter is Edinburgh’s largest development in a generation and creates a distinct area in the Scottish capital. Incorporating new and existing development, it transforms Edinburgh’s retail offering delivering an enriched social experience and creating a lifestyle destination which people will repeatedly revisit.

“Consumers are faced with a myriad of options when it comes to their leisure time and they want to spend it in a well designed, engaging and accessible place that offers them everything they want, and not simply a place to shop. Destinations need to make more efficient use of the space and work harder to meet consumers’ needs and St James Quarter does this by presenting a truly unique offer.”

The BDP team is now working to complete the shell and core works to the remaining phases of the development in advance of them being fitted out, which include a cinema, hotel and aparthotel, and a high profile residential element occupying the upper level of the galleria.

Work on further phases will see the completion of entertainment, residential, and hotel accommodation as part of the £1bn scheme.



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