Potterrow Development

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Application Type

Civic Trust Awards

Level of Award

Award

Region

Scotland

Local Authority Area

Edinburgh, City of

Information about this scheme

Located on the edge of Edinburgh’s beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Potterrow Development completes the phased implementation of an elegant suite of buildings, collectively forming a city block.

The buildings’ massing, entrance sequences, elevation treatment and use of materials react to the urban context: strengthening street patterns, reinforcing historic desire lines and providing presence and scale to public spaces. A clever interpretation of Edinburgh’s unique context, Potterrow is a development of substance and surprise. As the major component of the University of Edinburgh’s new masterplan for the George Square and Bristo Square area, the Potterrow development replaces a windswept car park with a rich mix of buildings, courtyards and reinstated streetlines. Bayes Centre, completed in 2018, became the final piece of the city block.

From the inside, the buildings are rational and simple; from the outside they appear more complex and responsive to their surroundings. In essence, the entire site is filled by two broadly similar quadrangular buildings, each with an atrium facing a central courtyard and a long wing that stretches the length of the block. The accommodation is uniform in width to allow the University maximum utility and adaptability. However, despite this seeming regularity, the form of the block has a complexity derived from changes in height, punctuations for entrances, expression of some key spaces, and a pedestrian route that penetrates the east, west and south sides to the courtyard in a way that recalls the public realm between the original tenements.

Bayes Centre was built to provide a unique world class home in the heart of Edinburgh for pioneering work, bridging academic disciplines in the fields of data technology, design informatics, maths and robotics and offering an unprecedented opportunity for external commercial research and academic collaboration and innovation. The vision for Potterow demanded a very specific brief for intellectual interaction and cross- fertilisation of ideas between employees and researchers who traditionally operated separately. Spaces to facilitate serendipitous encounters are a key aspect of the building’s organisation and are carefully designed and located. The central atrium spaces promote a visual transparency between groups and the staircases enliven the interiors as well as accessing breakout spaces on each floor. Open circulation allows people to meet in passing and, at Bayes Centre, the ground floor café complete with a museum of ‘antique’ robots is always busy with meetings, solitary working and socialising.

Credits

Architect

Bennetts Associates

Project Manager

Faithful+Gould

Client

University of Edinburgh

Quantity Surveyor

Turner & Townsend

Structural Engineer

Buro Happold

Services Engineer

Buro Happold

Landscape Architect

Ironside Farrar

Main Contractor

McLaughlin and Harvey

Fire Engineering

Atelier Ten

BREEAM

RSP Consulting Engineers

Acoustic Engineer

New Acoustics

Primary Use Class

Class B1 - Business