On 1st August 2017 The Ross Development Trust together with the City of Edinburgh Council announced the winner of the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition to be the team led by US-based design practice wHY. 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.
US design practice wHY have won the competition in collaboration with GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth.
wHY is a collective of architects, landscape designers, makers and strategic thinkers, established in 2004 and with offices in New York and Los Angeles; the studio’s competition-winning entry was led by Founder and Creative Director Kulapat Yantrasast and Landscape Design Director Mark Thomann.
A key local partner in the winning collaboration was Custom Lane founders Groves-Raines Architects and Edinburgh-based design studio GRAS, known for its exploratory, interdisciplinary approach and an eclectic portfolio of arts, cultural and community-based projects.
Human scale with moments of drama... activating four layers of meaning within the Gardens: botanical, civic, commemorative and cultural
The competition winners proposed an organic landscape-focused scheme that respects the historic setting but also animates the Gardens through the introduction of a new undulating promenade, transformed access from Princes Street, sculptural seating and dynamic open views.
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.’
Through the integration of landscape and building we have sought to create an exciting and engaging piece of progressive architecture
Gunnar Groves-Raines, Director of GRAS spoke on behalf of their involvement in the project:
“It is a true honour to be selected to deliver a project of this significance in the heart of our home town and to work as a central part of such a diverse and talented international design team.
This project is all about the place and it’s people. From the outset we have embraced a culture of engaging with and listening to Edinburgh residents so that we can fully understand the challenges and opportunities to create a place that can be many things to many people.
Edinburgh has a strong, unmistakable character and we have a significant responsibility to ensure that those characteristics are protected and even enhanced. Through the integration of landscape and building we have sought to create an exciting and engaging piece of progressive architecture, which has a subtle elegance and strength, complementing rather than competing with its context.”
Construction is expected to begin in 2018.
Custom Lane will be tracking the progress of this project, stay tuned for updates.