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Formal planning application lodged for Calton Hill hotel

September 2 2015

Formal planning application lodged for Calton Hill hotel
Hoskins Architects have submitted their final design proposals for the £75m conversion of Edinburgh’s former Royal High School building into a new hotel following extensive pre-application consultations.

The finalised designs show two wings of new build bedroom accommodation flanking the Thomas Hamilton designed school, employing a rippling façade of undulating copper above landscaped terracing taking inspiration from the surrounding volcanic landscape.

Hoskins said: “The design focuses around an informed restoration of the central Hamilton-designed building, repairing its decaying fabric and maintaining the strong sculptural presence of its frontage without intervention. The existing building will be entirely given over to the public areas of the new hotel allowing its spaces to be fully accessible for the first time in the building’s history.

“The contrast of the form and colour of the new elements, together with the considered approach to the landscaping of not just the site but the streetscape around the former high school, allow this hugely important building to retain and reinforce its prominence as a key Edinburgh landmark. The proposed design will create not only a setting appropriate to the stature of the building but, along with other initiatives such as Collective Gallery within the observatory, it should also bring about a level of change that allows Calton Hill to once again become an active and vibrant destination and place within Scotland’s capital city.”

This follows confirmation that Rosewood Hotels and Resorts have been selected by Duddingston House Properties and Urbanist Hotels to manage the venue.
Big changes are afoot for Edinburgh's skyline
Big changes are afoot for Edinburgh's skyline
Edinburgh's Calton Hill is set to be transformed over the coming years
Edinburgh's Calton Hill is set to be transformed over the coming years

Sharp angles present in initial proposals have given way to flowing curves
Sharp angles present in initial proposals have given way to flowing curves
The Calton Hill hotel will join a hig-rise compatriot at the St James Centre redevelopment
The Calton Hill hotel will join a hig-rise compatriot at the St James Centre redevelopment

The hotel will be prominent when viewed from Holyrood Park
The hotel will be prominent when viewed from Holyrood Park
The western entrance references the precedent set in Edinburgh's New Town for curved buildings addressing important junctions
The western entrance references the precedent set in Edinburgh's New Town for curved buildings addressing important junctions


#1 Posted by Yaldy on 2 Sep 2015 at 15:04 PM
Lovely place to stay, no doubt. Not sure what to make of this, but the last photo reminds me how much I love the parliament building
#2 Posted by James on 2 Sep 2015 at 15:08 PM
Good luck with this.
Jimbob Tanktop
#3 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 2 Sep 2015 at 15:29 PM
I think that's rather splendid.
James Tallent
#4 Posted by James Tallent on 2 Sep 2015 at 15:46 PM
I am sure that there are politicial machinations going on here. The High School would be the obvious place to house a Scottish Upper House, after independence. The building is deeply symbolic, and still carries many of the hopes and dreams and, now, aspirations, of an independent Scotland.
The Flâneur
#5 Posted by The Flâneur on 2 Sep 2015 at 16:58 PM
It is interesting to see how this has developed in the face of criticism and feedback during the consultation period but sadly the architects have set themselves an impossible challenge in trying to squeeze so much onto the site.
The key view, and it is missing from these images, is the one looking towards Arthur’s Seat from the east end of Thomas Tait’s St Andrews House with Thomas Hamilton’s modestly scaled Greek revival pavilions and the boundary screen of the Royal High School gradually appearing.
If this scheme proceeds the element that is going to be visually dominant within that scene is the new western terraced bedroom block for the hotel. And that block is going to completely interrupt the relationship between two of the very finest classical buildings in the UK and will unfortunately destroy the visual balance between them while impinging on the very memorable view to Arthur’s Seat
Sorry, I appreciate the architects are trying to be as sensitive as possible by suggesting these two new wings are background buildings that will frame the Royal High School and disappear into the hillside; however, at that key moment, the new western wing is unavoidably in the foreground.
Alas, the brief is simply demanding too much from such a sensitive site.
#6 Posted by Rabbie on 2 Sep 2015 at 17:02 PM
An improvement on the last design which was utterly banal. I think I like it...
Big Chantelle
#7 Posted by Big Chantelle on 2 Sep 2015 at 17:37 PM
Urban vandalism of the highest order. Concrete modernist radicals strike again.

Wit is wrong wae designing buildings which match their surroundings? For goodness sake. The 'juxtaposition' of styles merely shows aff how terrible today's buildings are compared to the past.

No Edinburgh. Just no.
#8 Posted by Stephen on 2 Sep 2015 at 20:05 PM
I can't really comment on the design but it is a shame that the St Mary's Music School/concert venue proposal may not get a look-in:
The Edinburgh Council Planning Committee generally seem keen on hotels, however badly designed.
The Bairn
#9 Posted by The Bairn on 2 Sep 2015 at 20:33 PM
Well at least its an improvement on the 'golden turd' not a million miles away.
Suffice to say that the stacked up slices of traditional Scottish Lorne sausage on each flank are at least contextual with the surrounding volcanic landscape!!
Tasty edible architecture.....rejoice
D to the R
#10 Posted by D to the R on 2 Sep 2015 at 21:20 PM
Big Chanters ... Guess what? If it ain't old then it's new and by that I mean modern. Would you rather a pastiche copy which would and could never aspire to the existing context? You are full of 'i wouldn't do's' ... I wonder what you would do though?
#11 Posted by qmd on 3 Sep 2015 at 09:27 AM
the two bulks on both sides just look out of place.. especially in the first image!
#12 Posted by Stephen on 3 Sep 2015 at 10:01 AM
All seems a bit awkward. Why does the the High School need to be flanked by two weird sentinels? They're even trying to lean out of the way!
I'd knock 2-3 stories off the right hand block if I could. Let the School stand on its own and not part of some awkward threesome.
Afraid I'm not a fan of the curved plan form here either. Seems to be trying to blend with the hill but you can only read that from a plane.
The scheme doesn't seem to know whether to be assertive or deferential.
Graeme M
#13 Posted by Graeme M on 3 Sep 2015 at 10:37 AM
I really hope they keep the fantastic railings and stone piers at the west edge of the site. These are really impressive and so important to the story of the building. would be so sad if they were lost.
Billy BS
#14 Posted by Billy BS on 3 Sep 2015 at 11:52 AM
They look run down and dilapidated.. the film 'I am Legend' springs to mind, Will Smith would look good in it..
Tom Manley
#15 Posted by Tom Manley on 3 Sep 2015 at 11:56 AM
I like this a lot - the conversion and restoration of the existing school building combined with the massing and materials of the new buildings makes for a well considered development and seems to handle its relationship to its context, historical significance and landscape well. These 3D illustrations are really effective at illustrating the relatively low impact on the landscape and the schemes ability to complement the historic building and maintain a sensitive presence within the cityscape and landscape - hope these are true to the end result. Proportions and scale look good to me too. Nice Job!
#16 Posted by CADMonkey on 3 Sep 2015 at 12:32 PM
I'm impressed with this.
I think the CGI artist has made a few artistic license decisions, but on the whole not bad.
I can barely believe the swathe of new granite and sandstone public realm works will happen. (e.g. look what was promised and didn't happen at Charlotte Square). I think it has been added to the CGI to show the proposal off to its best. Fair and square.
Stevie Steve
#17 Posted by Stevie Steve on 3 Sep 2015 at 13:43 PM
I think the visuals were done by drones then photoshopped/montaged over. Its pretty poor medicare architecture. Looks like awkwardly stacked pancakes. The building looks awkwardly positioned now with these flanking wings. The high school should be a public building, museum or such. Its far too important to be a hotel for some rich banker types. Im not opposed to a new contemporary extension,just something better. Also isn't it against the law to allow a grade A listed building to fall to ruin? This nonsense that they can't afford to restore it, well sell it to someone who will or the council should inflict compulsory repair orders on them or charge them etc. Money shouldn't be an excuse to letting them run amuck with our heritage...
#18 Posted by Stephen on 3 Sep 2015 at 15:20 PM
Sorry, I don't think the visuals are that helpful (or at least they only show off the scheme at its best). I suspect that street level views (both from distance and close up) would illustrate that the new buildings aren't especially appropriate.
Number 19
#19 Posted by Number 19 on 3 Sep 2015 at 16:47 PM
Meanwhile back in the real world ……
#20 Posted by Flaque on 3 Sep 2015 at 19:20 PM
#17, Stevie, its the council who own it and arnt maintaining it - should they fine themselves?
#21 Posted by CADMonkey on 3 Sep 2015 at 21:57 PM
#20 Flaque
No, I expect the SNP Scottish Government to fine City of Edinburgh Council for dereliction of duty for letting several of their listed buildings fall into disrepair.
But they won't because it won't attract votes.
But the council will fine the occasional private individual, if its a local issue that will attract votes....
Cold hard fact.
The Flâneur
#22 Posted by The Flâneur on 4 Sep 2015 at 09:26 AM
With reference to my post at #5 I see that as part of their planning submission Hoskins have an image of the view I described. A copy of it has already been posted on Skyscrapercity. Any chance Urban Realm could also post the same view here so people can appreciate the point I am making?

There is also a view towards the proposal from Dumbiedykes which is worth a gander.
Urban Realm
#23 Posted by Urban Realm on 4 Sep 2015 at 09:53 AM
Certainly. I have also added a close-up showing the relationship with the planned St James Centre hotel.
The Flâneur
#24 Posted by The Flâneur on 4 Sep 2015 at 10:22 AM
Thank you for taking the time to do this Urban Realm. I think the image I referred to illustrates my point very well. Hoskins’ proposal is very sexy, very Dezeen, and could make for an interesting piece of architecture but is such a major intervention appropriate for such a sensitive location within a World Heritage Site? When the focus should be on the Royal High School and St Andrews House is there not a risk that this new intervention could dominate these two key heritage assets?
the sultan of brooneye
#25 Posted by the sultan of brooneye on 4 Sep 2015 at 13:17 PM
The CGI guy needs to include the 150 or so coaches and tour buses that park here for 21 days or so every August; no idea why they come and go on this annual basis - some kind of event happens I guess.

#26 Posted by Finlay on 21 Sep 2015 at 20:00 PM
Formally it reminds me a little on H & dM's scheme in Oxford. I've got to say I quite like it!
Andy McG
#27 Posted by Andy McG on 23 Sep 2015 at 23:10 PM
The west side overhang is horrendous, totally overwhelming the airspace of New St Andrew's House from some important angles. Please be aware that (as ever) these present very favourable views of the site and as the Sultan mentions above show nothing of the bus park this place becomes in summertime. The proposed use as a hotel is disappointing, money money money rules as ever. Farewell World Heritage status…

#28 Posted by Nick on 5 Nov 2015 at 08:33 AM
A stunning proposal - I really like it. I went to the Royal High School and it's sad watching it deteriorate. Let's enjoy its revival as a top hotel in a modern era. And clean up the seedy Calton Hill at the same time.

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