Height reduced at Edinburgh concert venue with work poised to begin next year
Designs for Edinburgh’s first purpose-built music and performance venue in over one hundred years have been scaled back in height to avoid a potential legal battle with developers of the nearby St James Centre.
A variation to the planning application is being submitted this week which could see construction work begin on the Dunard Centre in 2022, with an estimated build length of three years.
Impact Scotland had originally secured planning permission in April 2019 for the 1,000 capacity venue to be built behind the RBS building at St Andrew Square.
However, a judicial review against the project was brought by the developers of the nearby St James Centre who raised concerns that the City of Edinburgh Council had breached rules to protect the World Heritage Site and a strict skyline policy for the city centre in approving the project.
Fearing that the legal battle could take years, Impact Scotland put the development on hold and was believed to have considered alternative locations for the venue.
Now the design team of David Chipperfield Architects in collaboration with Reiach & Hall Architects and Nagata Acoustics as acoustic consultants have returned with a space which has been “skilfully re-imagined to create a world-class auditorium of exceptional acoustic quality in the heart of the city”, retaining the 1000 capacity, while reducing the size of the proposed building.
The redesigned building will house:
- 1000 capacity auditorium with the capacity for live streaming, digital capture and broadcasting
- flexible multi-purpose rooms for education, conferencing and hospitality
- foyer with informal opportunity for performance
- café/bar with indoor and outdoor seating
The budget for the project remains at £75 million, with two-thirds of this being met by private philanthropy and fundraising. Around £35m is being donated by Dunard Fund, and a fundraising campaign for a further £15m has already received significant pledges and has the support of Royal Bank of Scotland.
The UK and Scottish Governments are each providing £10m, and the City of Edinburgh Council £5m as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.
Sir David Chipperfield said: “Tucked behind Dundas House and on axis with George Street, the Dunard Centre occupies a strategic site linking the formal qualities of St. Andrew Square and the New Town with the more intimate atmosphere of lanes around Register House towards the new St. James Quarter.
“The identity of the building is determined by its circular form, contributing to the silhouette of the city and enclosing a 1,000-seat hall. This flexible world-class facility is designed to adapt to a wide-ranging programme of performances and cultural activities, ensuring it will serve as a meaningful new addition to the life and fabric of Edinburgh.”
IMPACT Scotland’s co-chair Fergus Linehan said: “We are delighted to unveil the stunning design for the Dunard Centre which will be a truly transformational venue in the heart of Edinburgh.
“The restrictions throughout the pandemic have highlighted the enormous contribution participating in the performing arts, whether as an audience member or a performer, makes to our wellbeing. It is a great honour to be leading a project which will make such a positive and inspiring contribution to the city’s cultural rebuild.”
Co-chair Gavin Reid added: “As well as being a creative hub hosting music and educational experiences of all kinds, the Dunard Centre will reach out beyond its own walls to be an inspirational springboard for outreach work across the city and beyond.”