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Royal High School concert hall plan showcased

December 8 2015

Royal High School concert hall plan showcased
 The Royal high School Preservation Trust has showcased plans for a 300 seat concert hall to be created within the Edinburgh’s former Royal High School on Calton Hill, ahead of a formal planning submission later this week.

Backed by the philanthropic Dunard Fund the plans have been drawn up by Richard Murphy Architects with a view to creating a new home for St Mary’s Music School.

In addition to the main hall the plans would also include the creation of three new public performance spaces and a contemporary foyer providing space for ticketing, bar and cloakrooms that will also double up as a multi-functional space.
A new public entrance, terraces and ‘near invisible’ new build elements are also envisaged.

Controversy surrounds development of the A-listed landmark, with Edinburgh City Council wedded to a rival commercial plan for the building which would see it transformed into a hotel.

William Gray Muir, chairman of The Royal High School Preservation Trust, said: “We fully recognise that the City of Edinburgh Council is not currently in a position to accept our offer due to its existing commitment to a commercial development. However, we have consulted widely and believe that our plans satisfy the need for conservation, public access, a culturally suitable and economically sustainable use. Therefore, if the commercial application were refused, the Trust is poised and ready to enter any new competitive process to acquire the building for St Mary’s Music School. Such a process could be completed in a matter of months.”

Planners have yet to decide whether to give the green light to the hotel scheme.


#1 Posted by CADMonkey on 8 Dec 2015 at 11:16 AM
All good and much better.
But it looks like the Scottish Government are lining up to spare City of Edinburgh Council blushes and take it over as a new upper chamber for the Scottish Parliament.
Probably got the idea after they saw this brilliant visual!
Bill S
#2 Posted by Bill S on 8 Dec 2015 at 11:27 AM
Carlo Scarpa-esque suggestive interior? Check.
Timber formed screens? Check.
Exposed steel lintol over slappings? Check.
PoMo staircase with rectangular handrails? Check.
Over-hanging eaves to new low slung extension? Check.

#3 Posted by Tullochgorum on 8 Dec 2015 at 11:29 AM

The Scottish Government?! Not sure where you get your info but this nonsense originates from one drink-sozzled Labour peer at Westminster.

"Why doesn't Scotland have its own version of the House of Lords?" The question quite literally no-one is asking. Poor Foulkes.
#4 Posted by monkeycad on 8 Dec 2015 at 12:50 PM
@#1, Is it though? Is it all good? or much better? or Any better?
Stevie Steve
#5 Posted by Stevie Steve on 8 Dec 2015 at 13:33 PM
Much better proposal than that Gareth Hoskin disaster.
#6 Posted by #6 on 8 Dec 2015 at 16:05 PM
@#5, in what sense? becase you cant see it?
#7 Posted by Tullochgorum on 8 Dec 2015 at 16:28 PM
Bizarrely Hoskins' flashy scheme seems to treat the old school with more respect than this fiasco. Cutting out a basement entrance slot may be all the rage this year but will it last? I think not. No way to treat a timeless masterpiece of Greek Revival Mr Murphy.

No mention in this article of Simpson & Brown's involvement, I see. Are they embarrassed of the fact now that James Simpson's used his position as UNESCO advisor to threaten stripping the city of its World Heritage status if Hoskins' scheme is approved, and thereby allowing his old firm to land the project instead?! Surely not.
#8 Posted by neil on 9 Dec 2015 at 11:07 AM
#7 - When you see the full proposals of how the entrance works (I was at a meeting where Richard presented it) you'll see this is not your normal basement entrance slot - this is really clever.

I wish we hadn't got to a position where there were two fully developed schemes for the building but that is down to the ridiculous politics of it. This is a very well done design.
Stevie Steve
#9 Posted by Stevie Steve on 9 Dec 2015 at 12:07 PM
#6 Correct I'd rather not have to look at the Hoskins mess everyday
#10 Posted by Tullochgorum on 9 Dec 2015 at 15:30 PM
#8. "This is not your normal basement entrance slot". Okay, I'll take your word for it, but unless RM has devised a basement entrance slot that doesn't involve cutting a roadway width sandstone from out of the front of Scotland's most important Greek Revival building then my criticism will stand. I don't care that it will be "virtually invisible" (which means they tried to hide it completely but failed) from Regent Road or not, it seems faddish and a bit vulgar for a building of this stature.
Richard Murphy
#11 Posted by Richard Murphy on 11 Dec 2015 at 13:12 PM
I don't know who is hiding behind the "tullochgorum" moniker but instead of sounding off about the entrance just go and check out the drawings (everything can be seen on the City's entrance portal or on our website...see Section CC)) and you will se that the new entrance is completely invisible from Regent Road. Happy to accept your apology when it arrives.
Neil C
#12 Posted by Neil C on 11 Dec 2015 at 13:53 PM
Ah, ha RM does read Urban Realm comments. Ironically can remember criticism of Hoskins new basement entrance to the Museum of Scotland from Murphy in aj "Even if one accepts the main move, the way that the new entrances have been punched through the rusticated base is questionable." Similar proposition, maybe an apology is due here too.
Neil C
#13 Posted by Neil C on 11 Dec 2015 at 13:56 PM
Ouch! Horses for Courses eh RM
"During the day they are non-events and shuttered by night they resemble a row of garage doors. As part of the forthcoming pedestrianisation project, the stairs could have instead been completely remodelled to make the entrance more appealing.

The new foyer space is very generous and it is always interesting to see the roughness of the behind-the-scenes architecture of a great building. But one is left asking, is it appropriate to enter such a magnificent building through refurbished cellars? Yet, having made this move, the next major decision is how to penetrate the space above."
Neil C
#14 Posted by Neil C on 11 Dec 2015 at 14:02 PM
Apart from the obvious irony and double speak, why would you make a new entrance "invisible" Bizarre.
richard murphy
#15 Posted by richard murphy on 11 Dec 2015 at 14:46 PM
I rarely read these comments sections and hardly ever participate mostly because I don’t have much respect for people who hide behind a pseudonym but also I find that they don’t really “debate” the merits or otherwise of a project. Instead personal abuse and point scoring seems to be the general tone. Sad really.

ANYHOW, since reference has been made to my AJ review of the Royal Scottish Museum renovations I think I need to point out a few facts. Firstly a foyer for the Royal Scottish Museum existed (indeed a rather spectacular one); secondly there is a rather grand entrance which not only was essential to the elevation but in the section delivered the visitor right into the centre of that foyer. That experience has been lost. At the Royal High School there is neither entrance nor foyer. The door within the portico was conceived by Hamilton as a ceremonial end of year exit and if used as an entrance would open directly into what will become the main performance space so we cannot use that (other than maybe an exit at the end of a summertime concert). And there is no foyer nor is there a space that could be used as a foyer. Consequently we have had to create both foyer (which in this instance is not just a refurbished basement but is space made by significantly lowering the floor and excavating back into the hillside) and new significant entrance which at the same time is hidden from Regent Road.

If you want to continue a serious architectural debate about our proposals for the Royal High School I’m happy to discuss the merits or otherwise of the project but only a) if you identify yourself and b) you actually look at the drawings before making criticisms. That seems reasonable to me.
Neil C
#16 Posted by Neil C on 11 Dec 2015 at 15:18 PM
Ach, no thanks the whole thing and the involvement of James Simpson feels grubby.

Professor Sue D Nom
#17 Posted by Professor Sue D Nom on 11 Dec 2015 at 15:28 PM
I imagine Tullochgorum is drafting that apology for sure.....
#18 Posted by Tullochgorum on 11 Dec 2015 at 16:21 PM
Mr Murphy,

"Virtually invisible" was quoted from "Alterations virtually invisible from Regent Road", a titlecard from the "External Tour" on YouTube, produced by your practice.

Whether the new entrance is virtually or completely invisible from the street, I simply believe "punching" a ten meter wide basement entrance through the front of Scotland's finest Greek Revival building is plain wrong. Just my opinion, others may feel differently.
Poor Richie
#19 Posted by Poor Richie on 11 Dec 2015 at 16:24 PM
You know when you have the arrogance to negatively critic a peer in the main forum of your field and then you get all antsy when your own egotistical self-indulgent proposal is critiqued
Nom de guerre
#20 Posted by Nom de guerre on 11 Dec 2015 at 19:47 PM
I do love the urban realm comments.
Utter coward
#21 Posted by Utter coward on 20 Dec 2015 at 13:17 PM
Fair play to Richard Murphy for trying to debate with the UR trolls. These pages are hardly about 'critique' #19. How nice of you to lob insults at him (a real life person no less) from the comfort of your anonymity.
#22 Posted by lanarklad on 21 Dec 2015 at 22:17 PM
There is clearly quite an obvious difference between the visibility, necessity and overall effect of the museum and the RHS basement entrance approaches getting compared here. Those up to mischief just look a bit immature pretending otherwise.

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