The Ross Development Trust together with the City of Edinburgh Council today 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.
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. Full details of the jury and winning team can be found in the Notes below.
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.’
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.
“All of the shortlisted teams put forward fantastic ideas but wHY’s Butterfly concept received the jury’s collective support. The chosen design makes the most of the natural surroundings of Princes Street Gardens and focuses on connecting people to the city, the stage and the view of Edinburgh Castle.” – Councillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Culture and Communities Convener
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.
“wHY is built around an ecology of disciplines, the convergence of ideas, experience, nature and people. The Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens represent this convergence and this was the perfect ground to further our approach to design. To be selected from so many extraordinary thinkers is an honour. We felt a personal connection to the Gardens and believe our design embodies how important collaboration and people are to making a place remarkable.” Kulapat Yantrasast, Founder and Creative Director of wHY
Mark Thomann, wHY’s Landscape Design Director, added “This is a special opportunity for a special place, not just for Edinburgh but the world. The new Ross Pavilion and Gardens draw from the rich natural history, heritage and creative spirit of Scotland, embodying a model approach for integrating public architecture and urban space in a top global city. Our team looks forward to realising this vision with the Ross Development Trust and the people of Edinburgh.”
The other five teams were led by Adjaye Associates; Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG); Flanagan Lawrence; Page \ Park Architects, West 8 Landscape Architects and BuroHappold Engineering; and Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter.
The Ross Development Trust is working closely with the City of Edinburgh Council on this initiative. Key project stakeholders include Historic Environment Scotland, the Cockburn Association, the Old Town Community Council and Edinburgh World Heritage.
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.
Images Credit | ©wHY