Collective on Calton Hill

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Application Type

AABC Conservation

Level of Award

Highly Commended

Region

Scotland

Local Authority Area

Edinburgh, City of

Information about this scheme

The design and restoration project was split into two distinct phases: Phase 1 works facilitated the relocation of Collective to the City Dome on Calton Hill and Phase 2 works saw the extensive refurbishment of the Category A Listed City Observatory, Transit House, Playfair Monument & Boundary Walls. It also includes the addition of a new two storey restaurant, ‘The Lookout’ which cantilevers over the north east corner of the boundary wall, a new gallery ‘The Hillside’ which is excavated into the basalt mound to the north of the Observatory and a new welcome kiosk at the East Gate. The connections between each building were then carefully knitted together by an extensive new landscaping scheme, which allows the site to become fully accessible and open to all, for the first time in its 240-year history. The City Observatory was designed by W.H. Playfair in 1818 and the design team were supplied with a full detailed set of original Playfair drawings to work with when developing the proposals. This informed the conservation work, including reinstating the original interior plan form of a single central hall with double column arrangement; opening this up allowed light to flood into the space on a perfect east/west orientation as Playfair intended. A particularly striking feature are the meridian slots, two 180-degree slices into the roof and elevation of the east and west wings which were once covered by timber shutters, to allow the building to be opened up to the sky. These have been reopened, the shutter mechanism overhauled and the slots glazed as part of the works; this intervention feels very contemporary, but is a fundamental original element of the 200-year-old building design. The Transit House predates the City Observatory, and in many ways is a simplified first version, with a single meridian slot, the same timber shutter system and scaled down detailing. The restaurant occupies the vacant north west corner of the site; historical analysis found that Robert Adam had urged James Craig to ‘fortify’ each corner of the site when he was developing proposals for Observatory House and although this was not fully realised, the later additions of the Playfair Monument and City Dome strengthened this principle, leaving the north west corner empty by contrast. The form of the restaurant is designed with a geometric kinship to the Playfair Monument, diagonally opposite. From outside the compound it appears single storey, projecting out in a bold manner over the boundary wall. A series of stone columns support the roof, set in an asymmetric arrangement to create a sense of anchoring the building backs into the hill. The pyramid roof form is topped by a glazed oculus, to echo the form of the Observatory House.

Credits

Client

Collective

Client

City of Edinburgh Council

Project Manager

Faithful & Gould

Structural Engineer

Elliott & Company

Services Engineer

Cundall

Landscape Architect

HarrisonStevens

Architect

Collective Architecture

Architect

Malcolm Fraser Architects

Primary Use Class

Class D1d - Display of Works of Art