Seven teams compete to design new Edinburgh landmark

  • The seven diverse proposals from the teams vying to win the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition and revitalise West Princes Street Gardens now go on show to the public
  • Concept designs displayed in online gallery and at a public exhibition from 21 June until 30 July 2017
  • Public invited to comment at the exhibition or directly via email
  • Winner to be announced in early August 2017

The Ross Development Trust in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council today [20 June 2017] revealed the seven concept designs devised by international and UK teams for a new landmark Ross Pavilion, which is intended to revitalise Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens, one of the city’s most emblematic places.

The concept designs are now available to view online and in a free-to-enter public exhibition at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre, which runs for five weeks.

The site for the new Pavilion is a nationally-important space, perfectly positioned below Edinburgh Castle and adjoining the city’s most famous shopping street. Currently occupied by the Ross Bandstand, this is a true ‘place for people’ – for much of the year a tranquil haven, it is also the seasonal focus for some of Scotland’s most high-profile events and celebrations, notably Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Festival’s closing fireworks concert.

Norman Springford, Chairman of the Ross Development Trust and Competition Jury Chair, said:

“The revival of this, one of Edinburgh’s best and most prominent sites, is a hugely exciting prospect and we now have seven fascinating design concepts from some of the world’s most in-demand creative minds.

“These design concepts help us visualise how the new Ross Pavilion could both complement and act as a counterpoise to the Gardens and the Castle. The concepts will now be assessed in detail, the public will get their chance to comment, and then the jury will interview the teams and review and debate each submission in turn.”

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Frank Ross, said:

“The global response to the competition reaffirms the worldwide interest a city like Edinburgh commands. It really is exciting to see the possibilities for the Ross Pavilion unfold and on display in the City Art Centre. We welcome all thoughts and comments from our citizens on the short-listed schemes. One of these designs is set to become one of Edinburgh’s most important new venues.”

Malcolm Reading, Competition Director, said:

“Such was the appeal of the project that the competition brought the global design community to Edinburgh! Each of the finalists knows winning would be both a privilege and a career-defining moment. While the seven Pavilions show different approaches, the competing teams are connected by a shared love of materials, form and placemaking.

“Of course, these are concepts, and not final designs – the winning team will work closely to develop their ideas with the City Council and the Ross Development Trust.”

The seven-strong shortlist that reached the second stage of the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition was selected from the 125 teams (made up of 400 individual firms) who entered the competition. The Pavilion, which will provide a flexible platform for the imaginative arts and cultural programming that Edinburgh excels in, will allow visitors and residents to engage with a variety of events all year round. Other aspects of the circa £25m project include subtle updates to the West Princes Street Gardens – the latter being of outstanding cultural significance and operated and managed by the City of Edinburgh Council as Common Good Land.

The public is being invited to share its views on the project via a survey at the exhibition or by emailing the competition organisers, Malcolm Reading Consultants, at [email protected]

The proposals on show are by the following shortlisted teams (in alphabetical order):

  • Adjaye Associates with Morgan McDonnell, BuroHappold Engineering, Plan A Consultants, JLL, Turley, Arup, Sandy Brown, Charcoalblue, AOC Archaeology, Studio LR, FMDC, Interserve and Thomas & Adamson
  • Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)with JM Architects, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, GROSS.MAX., Charcoalblue, Speirs + Major, JLL, Alan Baxter and People Friendly
  • Flanagan Lawrence with Gillespies, Expedition Engineering, JLL, Arup and Alan Baxter
  • Page \ Park Architects, West 8 Landscape Architects and BuroHappold Engineering with Charcoalblue and Muir Smith Evans
  • Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekterwith GROSS.MAX., AECOM, Charcoalblue, Groves-Raines Architects and Forbes Massie Studio
  • wHY, GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth with Alan Cumming, Aaron Hicklin, Beatrice Colin, Peter Ross, Alison Watson and Adrian Turpin
  • William Matthews Associates and Sou Fujimoto Architects with BuroHappold Engineering, GROSS.MAX., Purcell, Scott Hobbs Planning and Filippo Bolognese

The jury, which includes Alexander McCall Smith CBE FRSE, Sir Mark Jones FSA, FRSE along with Andrew Kerr, CEO, City of Edinburgh Council and Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage (see Notes to Editors for full list) will subsequently meet to interview the teams and the winner announcement is expected in early August 2017.

Established in 2016, the Ross Development Trust is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation whose purpose is to advance the appreciation and promotion of the arts, culture and heritage within West Princes Street Gardens and, through this, encourage the rejuvenation of Edinburgh city centre.

The Trust, which has committed a substantial gift towards the project, is raising funds from both private and public sources, and is working closely with the land owners, the City of Edinburgh Council, on this initiative. Other key project stakeholders include Edinburgh World Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, the Edinburgh Festival, the Cockburn Association, and the Old Town Community Council.

The competition is being run according to EU procurement guidelines and the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015. It is independently organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC). MRC specialises in competitions for museums and arts, heritage, and non-profit organisations and is currently running those for the National Infrastructure Commission, Kaunas M.K. Čiurlionis Concert Centre, the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation and the National Trust.

Construction is expected to begin in 2018.

Notes to Editors

Ross Pavilion Exhibition

A free-to-enter public exhibition of the shortlisted concept designs is being held at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh from 21 June until 30 July 2017.

Wednesday to Saturday 10am-5pm

Sunday Noon-5pm

Email comments to the competition organisers are welcome – please use [email protected]

Ross Pavilion International Design Competition Jury

  • Norman Springford (jury chair), Chairman, Ross Development Trust
  • Ada Yvars Bravo, Director, MYAA Architects
  • Sir Mark Jones FSA, FRSE, Former Director of the National Museums of Scotland and the V&A
  • Andrew Kerr, CEO, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Riccardo Marini, Director, Gehl Architects
  • Alexander McCall Smith CBE, FRSE, Writer
  • Malcolm Reading (Hon) FRGS, FRSA, Architect and Competition Director
  • Adam Wilkinson, Director, Edinburgh World Heritage

Ross Development Trust

The Ross Development Trust is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, registered as a Charity in Scotland, and constituted to deliver significant regeneration in West Princes Street Gardens. The Trust is tasked with finding the capital required to fund the various projects within the Gardens, for the benefit of the City.

The Board of Trustees consists of individuals with a broad range of experience, sharing a personal ambition to improve the offering of West Princes Street Gardens. There will also be representation on the Board from the City of Edinburgh Council to ensure that the City’s interests are protected.

Project Background

The Ross Bandstand is located centrally within West Princes Street Gardens, and is framed by spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle. Records of live music performances on the site date back to 1853, with the first permanent structure, designed by architects Kinnear and Peddie, erected in 1877. This was replaced by the current structure – an open air theatre – built in 1935 and designed by city architect E J Macrae. The original building was gifted to the city by William Henry Ross, former chairman of the Distillers Company. The 1935 building has been upgraded and extended a number of times throughout the 20th century.

In recent times the Bandstand has fallen into disrepair: the facilities do not meet today’s requirements and, as a result, this prominent site is not living up to its full potential. When not in use the site is closed to the public, restricting access through the Gardens and creating a void in one of the most visited green spaces in Scotland.

The ambition to replace the Bandstand dates back to 2004, when the current structure proved unable to withstand the intense storms experienced during the 2003 Hogmanay celebrations. The City of Edinburgh Council subsequently commissioned a feasibility study to explore options for the site, and make recommendations for overall improvements to the Gardens. A previous competition was launched in 2006, but the project was cancelled due to funding constraints.

Malcolm Reading Consultants

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic consultancy specialising in the selection of contemporary designers. MRC believes in the power of design to create new perceptions and act as an inspiration – either at the local level, or internationally.

MRC is the leading specialist in design competitions in Europe. Recent work includes competitions for the Illuminated River Foundation, Science Island (Lithuania), Tintagel Castle Bridge, the Mumbai City Museum and new buildings for New College, Oxford and Homerton College, Cambridge.

MRC is currently advising the British Council for Offices Ideas Competition for the future of workspace and is currently working with the British Library to establish the Design Brief for the major northern development of the St Pancras site.