Advocate's Close, Edinburgh

Sheila Byers Sheila Byers
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Urban intervention in a historic monument city like Edinburgh is tricky, especially if the planned complex includes nine listed buildings in the planning area. The result here, however, is an award-winning design, which has garnered much praise and respect. The architectural firm Morgan McDonnell Architecture, which was responsible for the design, was awarded the prestigious RIAS Award 2014 and the Scottish Property Awards 2014 at the beginning of this month. The architectural firm received  £25,000 and a gold medal at the awards ceremony in Edinburgh.

Judges praised the extraordinary care and consideration that was used to bring together contemporary and historical architecture. The jury also praised the positive development that brings modernisation and fresh vitality to the historic streets of Edinburgh. Nine listed buildings were involved in the planning, which have different uses and include commercial, office and residential spaces. The mixed-use space holds the first Motel One of Great Britain, 50 apartments, restaurants, offices, bars and cafed. These open into the quiet lanes of the city and revitalise the surrounding squares. Today, we show you excerpts of this project, including the streets, alleys and buildings. 

Unusual view

Advocate's Close:   by morgan McDonnell
morgan McDonnell

Advocate's Close

morgan McDonnell

The historic centre of Edinburgh has a history stretching back nearly 500 years.  Here we see this distinctive part of the city with its new development. The black, modern façade bursts forth from the grey stone and is accented by warm wood attachments. There is a strong mixing of building volume. In some areas of the old town, modern facades emerge and the landmarked fronts recede into the background. The result is an exciting interaction that is well suited to the Scottish city’s image.

Building structure

Advocate's Close:   by morgan McDonnell
morgan McDonnell

Advocate's Close

morgan McDonnell

In this demanding area, this 185-square-foot building was built, which is a mixed-use development. The complex is designed so that two orthogonal blocks, at right angles to each other, are stacked on two levels. On the ground floor, you will find the entrance, the reception, a conference room and service rooms. The building is accessed through a newly created pedestrian walkway.

Modern courtyard

Advocate's Close:   by morgan McDonnell
morgan McDonnell

Advocate's Close

morgan McDonnell

Traditional structures are also found in the huge complex. Here, four walls arise on four sides, enclosing a courtyard. The windows in the modern facade reflect the sky.

Quaint charm

Advocate's Close:   by morgan McDonnell
morgan McDonnell

Advocate's Close

morgan McDonnell

A quaint pub is nestled into High Street. This renovated space on the ground floor was formerly a boiler room. Now the bar is one of the most popular pubs in the old town.  The façade was gently integrated into the prevailing townscape. Details like the wooden gates that act as shutters underline the charm. With great care, the original face of the road has been maintained and looked after.

Interior of the pub

Advocate's Close:   by morgan McDonnell
morgan McDonnell

Advocate's Close

morgan McDonnell

Inside the bar, there is industrial lighting and exposed brick, in keeping with the popular urban style. With over 200 whiskeys and Scottish regional cuisine, this pub is worth a visit any time of day.

A side view

Advocate's Close:   by morgan McDonnell
morgan McDonnell

Advocate's Close

morgan McDonnell

A side view reveals how much has changed. The graphic lines playfully interrupt the traditional image of the city and give the viewer a very different mood. The selected materials stand out from the extravagance of the old stone walls.

Apartments

Advocate's Close:   by morgan McDonnell
morgan McDonnell

Advocate's Close

morgan McDonnell

In addition to commercial and industrial buildings, private housing units were involved in the transformation. The traditional structure is clearly evident and is catapulted into the present by contemporary furniture design.

Interested in architecture? Check out the architecture section of our magazine!

What do you think of this design? Let us know in the comments!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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