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Remodel to make a failed Edinburgh office block unrecognisable

April 9 2024

Remodel to make a failed Edinburgh office block unrecognisable

Morgan Architects has returned with updated proposals to transform a failed Edinburgh office block dating from the 1960s through a combination of new build and refurbishment.

Finance House will be left unrecognisable following the transformation which includes the demolition of a rear extension to make way for 65 apartments and the change of use of the main building to accommodate 301 student bedrooms and coworking spaces.

Driven by a desire to diversify the site by applicant Square and Crescent the works will see the main building dressed in reconstituted stone with bronze metal detailing. Switching from horizontal to vertical emphasis of the facades this change is reflected in the buff brick of the new build element, which carries forward the bronze cladding to unify both halves.

In a statement, the architects observed: "The design approach to the replacement of the rear 1970s building has been fully informed by the aspirations for east/west and north/south permeability through the site, and the importance attached to the landscape and public realm. A new recessed volume is proposed to provide a clear path between Learmonth Crescent and Learmonth Gardens, with the new volume turning to meet Learmonth Gardens, creating as a result an “L” shaped building. This provides continuity and a sense of connection between the two previously unconnected streets."

A landscape strategy by RankinFraser will extend to 20% of the site, focusing on a central park threaded by concrete block paving and lined by benches, open lawn and trees. 

A new skin of bronze and stone will bring vertical emphasis to the retained building
A new skin of bronze and stone will bring vertical emphasis to the retained building
A terraced apartment block will help to open up the rear of the site
A terraced apartment block will help to open up the rear of the site


Steve Jobs
#1 Posted by Steve Jobs on 9 Apr 2024 at 14:22 PM
Given that the surrounding built environment is primarily residential, the existing building mass and its materiality is quite brutal and overbearing. Unfortunately, the proposed remodelling of the building looks to be a missed opportunity, it really does very little to improve on the current building. On one hand the stepping down at the rear is a start but the choice of materials and overall fenestration of the façade with an emphasis on powerful vertical elements such as the 8-storey bronzed radiator fin aesthetic look better suited to Edinburgh Park than this complex urban site. I applaud the principle of the retrofit approach but there’s a disappointing lack of finesse with these proposals.
#2 Posted by Al on 9 Apr 2024 at 18:30 PM
Why does this have to be so bitty and complicated when all around has a more simple rhythm?
#3 Posted by TepidMouse on 10 Apr 2024 at 01:50 AM
Failed Edinburgh office, failed Edinburgh flats to follow! Why we need to call them apartments makes me squirm. They are flats, Edinburgh flats. Completely out of context with the area. This is Edinburgh, not Tritmontreds.
#4 Posted by TerracinTam on 11 Apr 2024 at 17:14 PM
Deary me! It may be a failed office, but a quick search on Registers of Scotland suggests the current owners paid £10.5million for it in April 2021. They've already got consent for an ill-conceived residential scheme and that has quite obviously failed, so now throwing their hat into the ring on student accommodation as that is the only show in town. They'll no doubt bleat about viability when the reality is they've paid £10,499,999 more than what it is actually worth. As for the proposed design, the less said about that the better. Send this one back to the drawing board quickly...
#5 Posted by Philip on 11 Apr 2024 at 19:29 PM
Utterly rank. So aggressive and without any finesse or style. Did they use Minecraft to model this version?
I prefer the existing building.
#6 Posted by Ron on 12 Apr 2024 at 13:59 PM
Horrible. This is about money. Cram as much as possible into a space.

Should not be allowed. Totally out of keeping with the surrounding residential areas.

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