Work underway at ‘landmark’ development in Donaldson’s grounds

Donaldson's 7CALA Homes has started work on a new development in Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.

A crescent of glass-fronted residences will be created in the grounds of the Donaldson’s College.

The housebuilder said the project will bring to life the vision of architect Richard Murphy OBE. His design for The Crescent will complement the restoration of the neighbouring Category A-listed Playfair building.

David McGrath, managing director of CALA Homes (East), said: “It is a privilege to be involved in this project, so we are delighted that work has now started on the site.

“It is rare enough to earn the chance to create new homes in a World Heritage Site – let alone to be working in a location as special as Edinburgh’s renowned Donaldson’s site. This promises to be a one-of-a-kind development and one that we are extremely proud and excited to be part of.”

Donaldson's 3The historic and turreted Playfair building is one of the most recognisable in Edinburgh and was most recently home to Donaldson’s School for the Deaf. However rising costs saw the school move to a purpose-built new campus in Linlithgow, West Lothian in 2008.

Thereafter the site, purchased by CALA Homes, was mothballed for a number of years, to take account of the economic downturn. During that period the plans to restore the building and transform the wider location was painstakingly drawn up and approved, including extensive consultation with the local community and heritage groups.

That saw CALA partner with heritage restoration specialists City & Country, which took on the conversion of the 1851 William Playfair building into a variety of apartments, a process which started in 2016.

Meanwhile, CALA progressed with its plans to create The Crescent at Donaldson’s, a sweeping collection of new apartments to the secluded north of the listed building. It is the work on that impressive new element of the site which has now started.

The first stage of the construction involves a significant excavation, which will create the underground parking, part of the design intended to keep the site as free from cars as possible once it is completed and landscaped.

Following this, construction will commence on the westernmost half of the split crescent, to create a stylish, glass-fronted building which cleverly takes a host of design cues – including its height and form – from the finest buildings in Edinburgh’s celebrated Georgian New Town.

Donaldson's 1The crescent form of the design itself has also been carefully considered to connect the site with a prominent feature of Georgian architecture, while perfectly complementing and interplaying with the Playfair building. Several examples of Georgian crescents exist in Edinburgh’s New Town.

The homes in The Crescent will include garden flats, duplexes and penthouses.

David McGrath added: “Everything about this project makes it so special. The architects have pulled a masterstroke in coming up with designs which are stylish and modern, yet also pay a respectful homage to the World Heritage site.

“While CALA is already known as Scotland’s foremost developer of upmarket family homes, this is the latest site where we have shown we do so much more. We regularly take on projects that challenge our team to deliver complex engineering and design solutions. This leads to CALA being able to take on a wide variety of developments in and out of the city.

“The Crescent at Donaldson’s is the culmination of years of painstaking work ensure a development which is dynamic and new, yet also fitting and appropriate for such a location.

“Starting the construction process is a huge milestone and we hope The Crescent will become a landmark in its own right for decades to come.”

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