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Second time lucky for Royal High School hotel bid?

February 21 2017

Second time lucky for Royal High School hotel bid?
Hoskins Architects have brought forward revised hotel proposals for Edinburgh’s Old Royal High School and an acknowledgement by the developers that their original vision, rejected by planners in December 2015, ‘fell short’.

The renewed bid addresses concerns raised at the scale and massing of flanking wings of accommodation at the historic address with co-investors Duddingston House Properties, Urbanist Hotels and Oaktree Capital Management reiterating their support for the £70m venture.

In a statement Hoskins Architects wrote: “Following refusal of 2015 applications, the applicants instructed their design team to reassess all aspects of the proposals, focusing primarily on the visual impact of the development. The resulting revised scheme is presented by the applicant as a proposal that takes full cognizance of all concerns regarding the social, cultural, heritage and    landscape impact of the development.”

This revised scheme has a 15 per cent reduction in floor area, taking the total gross internal area down to 16,000sq/m with a dark brown pre-patinated copper specified for the facetted façade, inspired by the local geology.

Elsewhere it is proposed to lower the cills of three windows to the rear of Ham ilton’s assembly hall to allow improved access with the doorways sheathed in matching copper.

A rival vision by Richard Murphy Architects to turn the Thomas Hamilton designed property into a Music School has been approved but cannot proceed until 2022, when an agreement between the Council and the hotel developers expires.
Alterations carried out to the structure in the 1970s will be reversed
Alterations carried out to the structure in the 1970s will be reversed
Both wings of bedroom accommodation have been reduced in scale to avoid 'crowding' Hamilton's masterpiece
Both wings of bedroom accommodation have been reduced in scale to avoid 'crowding' Hamilton's masterpiece


#1 Posted by Matt on 21 Feb 2017 at 18:30 PM
Love it.
#2 Posted by Basho on 21 Feb 2017 at 22:08 PM
Much better. The previous clunky over-sized west wing proposal was eye wateringly mince.
Let's be honest - there's more chance of Morrissey eating a Big Mac than the music school project getting funding.
Hopefully the big posh hotel gets planning and breathes some life into the absurdly neglected Royal High.
#3 Posted by EL on 22 Feb 2017 at 08:48 AM
Me too - I think it looks much better than the previous scheme.
#4 Posted by Daniel on 22 Feb 2017 at 10:09 AM
Big fan of the semi-transparent people in the render.
#5 Posted by Egbert on 22 Feb 2017 at 10:43 AM
Better but still completely inappropriate for the building and site. Hoping this gets knocked back for good this time to give the music school - a suitably civic and cultural use for such an important and prominent building - the chance it deserves.
#6 Posted by FHM on 22 Feb 2017 at 11:27 AM
#5, have you seen the proposals for the private music school that will offer selected public performances? It is dross, pastiche, dated and looks as if RMA took out their 20 year anniversary catalogue and chose a few random pages in order to "inspire" precedent for this scheme. Combined with the usual "Scarpaesque" post-rationalising spraff and exposed steel lintols over the new inappropriate slappings, which completely ruin the whole entrance sequence of the former school it should be noted, the music school proposal is at best embarrassing and worse still, just a bad overall scheme.
Neil McAllister
#7 Posted by Neil McAllister on 22 Feb 2017 at 11:44 AM
Basho - my understanding is that the music school scheme is fully funded.

I think the music school is a better scheme but this is a definite improvement.
#8 Posted by basho on 22 Feb 2017 at 12:42 PM
I keep hearing William Gray Muir - chairman of the Royal High School Preservation Trust - saying the Music School proposal is fully funded.
It's never exactly made clear how and by whom. Is it depending on the old Music School site being sold to developers? Is there a generous benefactor waiting in the wings? My fear is that it's dependent on a lot of 'ifs' - which translates as God knows how many years more until something is done with this building. The fact that Planners gave the music school SEVEN YEARS planning permission is a little insight into exactly how much of that money is available now, and how long this alternative proposal might take, IF it happens at all.
The hotel option may be just for the moneybags brigade but at least it will get built.
R Lort
#9 Posted by R Lort on 22 Feb 2017 at 13:39 PM
Interesting, are they planning on re-surfacing the entire Regent Road with cobbles or just the area outside the hotel? Or is that artistic licence?
#10 Posted by Cadmonkey on 22 Feb 2017 at 18:54 PM
Is it just me or does anyone else agree it just like oks cheap. Kind of like a badly assembled set or rejected conservatory roof panels.
The reality of the important princes street corner image is that the floor to ceiling bedroom windows will surely have very visible curtains or blinds....or smoked glass perhaps...
I just think it looks very unresolved, smacks of compromise and a desperate developer simply trying to prove a point, rather than seeking the correct architectural solution for the site.
#11 Posted by Marion on 22 Feb 2017 at 21:07 PM
The music school has a generous benefactor. The hotel has no financial backing at present and looking at the economic case they seem to have grossly underestimated the cost of building a luxury hotel. It is a high risk development proposed by Hare and Orr who have no track record in delivering anything let alone a luxury hotel on an internationally significant site. If planning permission were granted for a hotel we are just as likely to see another Ibis in 2022 after the site is left to deteriorate further... we were promised a luxury hotel on the Caltongate site, the reason why a large pend onto the Royal Mile was allowed to give them the address, what we have is an Ibis.
#12 Posted by Daniel on 23 Feb 2017 at 09:55 AM
#8 - the seven years is presumably because of the agreement the hotel operators have with the council. Otherwise a standard planning consent would expire before then.
#13 Posted by bonvivant on 23 Feb 2017 at 21:46 PM
It would be interesting (and more honest) to see images with all of the safety barriers included to the edges of the green roofs.
#14 Posted by CADMonkey on 24 Feb 2017 at 12:18 PM
Yes, my detective work suggests that the developers public realm improvements are not as shown on the CGI.
Perhaps the developer should be asked to resubmit that particular image that does not represent their intentions.
Alan Robertson
#15 Posted by Alan Robertson on 24 Feb 2017 at 15:56 PM
Big deal – the monstrous carbuncles are now reduced in height by 20% - they’d still be a hideous blot on Edinburgh’s landscape and overwhelm the original school building.
#16 Posted by buzzthedog on 4 Mar 2017 at 21:09 PM
Flanking wings no less - beware of spoonerisms!
#17 Posted by Graeme on 5 Mar 2017 at 19:50 PM
Music school for me. Princes Street needs great hotels inter alia to give it a cachet. Duddingston House should turn their attention to one of the sad buildings overlooking The Gradens

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