International design competition launched for Edinburgh’s Ross Pavilion

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Image courtesy of David Springford of Infinity Photography

Architects from around the world are being invited to submit designs to replace an iconic bandstand in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.

The Ross Development Trust in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council and Malcolm Reading Consultants today launched a global search for a team of architects, landscape designers, engineers and other specialists for the Ross Pavilion and Gardens project worth around £25 million.

The design challenge comprises a new landmark Pavilion, a visitor centre with café, and subtle updates and improvements to the surrounding gardens, all of which are on common good land and within Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.

The Pavilion will host all kinds of imaginative arts programming from large to small scale events.

Chairman of the Ross Development Trust and competition jury chair, Norman Springford, said: “This is a project for one of the most important places in Scotland and we want it to communicate the very essence of Edinburgh: a dynamic city with an unrivalled arts and cultural pedigree – a city that’s forward-looking while tuned into its history.

“We would like the Pavilion to have an original design of international quality and significance that says ‘Edinburgh’.

“Designers will need to be sensitive to context and historic setting – the Castle being a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the Gardens having botanical, commemorative and civic interest. But the design for the new Pavilion and the wider project must also communicate Edinburgh’s creative energies and international profile.

“We all really look forward to being involved in this exciting public-private partnership.”

Competition director Malcolm Reading added: “This is a site with strategic position, a rich and varied topography, not to mention a 900-year-old Castle on hand.

A Pavilion offers designers one of the ultimate creative tests – the potential to create a world-within-a-world.

“The competition will create not only a civic emblem but also a living entity, a much-needed platform at the heart of the city, for national and local events, to re-energise this valued green space.”

Competition teams should be led by an architect and demonstrate expertise in landscape design, engineering, heritage and planning. Competitors will need to fill out the online form on the competition website and upload documents detailing their proposed team and experience.

First-stage submissions must be made by March 13 from which five (or more) finalists will be selected to battle it out in a second phase during.

The competition winner is set to be announced in August 2017 with construction expected to get underway in 2018.

Meanwhile, global professional services consultancy WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff has been appointed to carry out a feasibility study for a new road bridge that will form a gateway for improved vehicular access to help service the re-animated Gardens.

Gordon Allerton, director at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, said: “This project in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens is a very exciting one, not just for us but for the people of the city.

“Our part in the project involves carrying out a feasibility study where we will look at all types of constraints from archaeology and cultural heritage to noise and vibration. This will help us to determine the best type of bridge for vehicles to access the Ross Bandstand’s replacement and its supporting amenities.

“The gardens are one of Edinburgh’s most recognisable locations so it’s great to be working with the Ross Development Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council on a project which will not only improve the area but potentially help the city win bids for major cultural events.”

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