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wHY wins Ross Pavilion & Gardens competition in Edinburgh

United Kingdom Architecture News - Aug 01, 2017 - 15:28   11821 views

wHY wins Ross Pavilion & Gardens competition in Edinburgh

International collaboration led by US-based design practice wHY has won an international competition to revitalise nationally-important site in Edinburgh. The Ross Development Trust together with the City of Edinburgh Council today announced the winner of the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition as the team led by US-based design practice wHY.

wHY's proposal brings an organic landscape-focused scheme respecting the historic setting, but also brings new energies, opens up views, transforms access and increases overall green space within West Princes Street Gardens. wHY saw off many big international competitors for the scheme, including Adjaye Associates, BIG/Bjarke Ingels Group, Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, William Matthews Associates and Sou Fujimoto Architects. 

wHY wins Ross Pavilion & Gardens competition in Edinburgh

Organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants, the five-month search for an outstanding team for the £25M Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens project attracted first-stage submissions from 125 teams (made up of 400 firms) from 22 different countries.

At the competition’s second stage, shortlisted teams produced concept designs for a new landmark Pavilion; a visitor centre with café; and improvements to the surrounding Gardens. The new Pavilion will provide a flexible platform for the imaginative arts and cultural programming that Edinburgh excels in, and allow visitors and residents to engage with a variety of events all year round.

The competition jury met on 11 July to interview the seven teams shortlisted for this initiative, and unanimously selected wHY as the winner. Their team included Edinburgh-based design studio GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth. 

wHY wins Ross Pavilion & Gardens competition in Edinburgh

Inspired by the Gardens’ geology and history – from the volcanic forces to the man-made energy of the Victorian pleasure garden – the design subtly positions the new visitor centre and the ‘butterfly’ Pavilion into the folds of the landscape, enabling the Castle to remain the main visual event. The scheme increases the amount of green space relative to hard surfaces within the Gardens and is, in the team’s words, ‘human scale with moments of drama… activating four layers of meaning within the Gardens: botanical, civic, commemorative and cultural.’

The jury praised the team’s concept design as "a beautiful and intensely appealing proposal that complemented, but did not compete with, the skyline of the City and the Castle." They liked the concept of the activated community space with a democratic spirit, potentially creating a new and welcoming focus for the City’s festivals while appreciating that the team’s design balanced this with a strong approach to the smaller, intimate spaces within the wider Gardens.

"As is always the case with initiatives of this size and stature, the jury had a hard job! We are confident however that we have a winning concept that embodies an imaginative ensemble landscape approach, creating a wonderful stage for our iconic Edinburgh Castle. In addition, the design concept offers a creative energy and a series of unique elements which will all combine to create a new and contemporary landscape," said Norman Springford, Competition Jury Chair, was delighted with the whole process.

"We thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the shortlisted teams and understanding each approach. However with wHY, they demonstrated an impressive collaboration which respects and enhances the historical context and backdrop of the Castle and the City, whilst creating new heritage and increasing the green space within the Gardens.  All of which were key aspects for us all and respected the importance of the space within a World Heritage Site."

wHY wins Ross Pavilion & Gardens competition in Edinburgh

All the finalists’ schemes went on show to the public at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh from 21 June until 30 July 2017 and remain available to view online through the websites of the competition and the Ross Development Trust.

wHY will now work with the Trust, the Council and other stakeholders, and consult with the public, to take forward the project to revitalise this space, positioned just below Edinburgh Castle and adjoining Princes’ Street. 

Currently occupied by the Ross Bandstand, and described as a true ‘place for people’, it is both a refuge from daily city life and the focus for exhilarating celebrations, such as Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Festival’s closing fireworks concert. Construction is expected to begin in 2018.

All images © wHY, courtesy of Malcolm Reading Consultants

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