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Old Town hotel shows its true face

October 18 2018

Old Town hotel shows its true face

A £20m hotel in Edinburgh’s Old Town has been unwrapped for the first time, showcasing the latest addition to the UNESCO World Heritage site.

The eight storey hotel is being delivered by jmarchitects on a prominent Market Street site, overlooking Waverley Station and sits behind a sandstone skin below a striking zinc and glass lounge and roof terrace.

Rod Duncan, director at jmarchitects, said: “This site has lain empty and derelict for nearly five decades and we are delighted that the public can finally see what we have achieved in remarkable surroundings. It is through a rigorous analysis of this historic fabric that we believe the design has developed to be truly respectful to its context. We are looking forward to seeing the hotel’s doors open in the near future.”

Developed by The EDI Group for the Carlton Hotel Collection work is now proceeding apace on the interiors, designed by FG Stijl, with a view to marrying the strong heritage of the area with modern day requirements.

Upper floor guests will enjoy panoramic views across the Waverley valley to the New Town
Upper floor guests will enjoy panoramic views across the Waverley valley to the New Town


#1 Posted by Doc on 18 Oct 2018 at 15:05 PM
Wow. As smooth and seamless as dental amalgam on ones teeth...
Fat Bloke on Tour
#2 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 18 Oct 2018 at 16:38 PM
No matter the help and the pointers available from the adjoining buildings we still get a blot on the landscape.

Sticks out like a sore thumb.
A severe case of trying too hard.
Simpler would have been better.
i must i must improve my bust ...
#3 Posted by i must i must improve my bust ... on 18 Oct 2018 at 17:21 PM
#1 and #2 but really FBoT - Irrespective of this project, do you actually EVER have anything positive to say about anything? I mean, this project has taken lots of people many years from start to finish and all you can come up with is a few crappy one liners? Really? Is that it? Hows about you enlighten us and actually substantiate yourself?
#4 Posted by TepidMouse on 18 Oct 2018 at 19:34 PM
Jesus wept. Would you look at the state of that. Another step towards Edinburgh town losing its UNESCO status.
John Terry
#5 Posted by John Terry on 18 Oct 2018 at 21:21 PM
#3 totally agree. The relentless negative comments really do reek. Having seen this from Princes Street the facade certainly does not stick out like a sore thumb. One things for sure this must have been one of the most awkward/difficult sites to develop in the city centre (hence why its remained undeveloped for 50 odd years) Well done to all involved, I think this a wonderful addition to the Old Town
#6 Posted by StyleCouncil on 18 Oct 2018 at 21:33 PM
#4...losing UNESCO?..sounds like a great idea.
Edinburgh needs to remove a layer or two of overpaid navel gazing faffers and brown tape. Let’s start with WH.
Despite a few fussy details I think this responds to its setting relatively successfully. It’s certainly a more appropriately executed development than the horror that is Advocates Close or Premier Inn World further down market street.
#7 Posted by Elmo on 19 Oct 2018 at 09:23 AM
When will people in Edinburgh realise that we dont live in the past, that cities develop over centuries, adding layers in different styles & architecture, they are not a set in any one period of time like some twee, nostalgic picture of the past!!
Walt Disney
#8 Posted by Walt Disney on 19 Oct 2018 at 09:53 AM
We walked over the bridge the other day and we discussed what a nightmatre in must be to build in central Edinburgh as we looked at the building. I'm amazed that with all of the opinions, contraints and development costs that they have managed to produce something that is contemporary and contextual and buildable.

Maybe the rain screen at the top is a wee bit fussy though and I've got a fiver on a big green streak developing on the east gable where it meets the stone.
Nairn's Bairn
#9 Posted by Nairn's Bairn on 19 Oct 2018 at 10:19 AM
This looks good - particularly the main façade. It has a restrained form, depth and fenestration that respects the adjacent buildings, and the stone looks great - I'm sure the Edinburgh climate will soon weather that down nicely.

I'm less sure about the dormer silhouettes (though they do again offer interest) but hey, I guess the designer had to let fly his creative juices somewhere.

On post #3 above regarding positivity of comments, to reiterate what has been said previously:

As the projects featured in the pages of UR are the most notable in Scotland, there is an expectation that the buildings are designed and built to a high standard. Most of the schemes have large budgets and are by national practices. Accordingly the bar is set high. A lot of projects slip by without comment, either because they’re uninteresting or just perfectly fine. Quite a few surpass the high levels of design expected and do get applauded accordingly (which is nice). And most will have resulted in happy clients, healthy fees and satisfaction all round.

But some are just plain bad and deserve to be called out as such. We don’t need the emperor’s new clothes here, and a back-slapping circle of architects telling each other how great we are does little for the profession.

The architecture world is a strange one – we rank ourselves amongst doctors and lawyers as professionals worthy of respect, but there is little accountability for bad design. Yes, you can measure leaking roofs, undersized rooms or overheated spaces, but ugliness is difficult to quantify (and indeed, subjective). A forum like this gives an opportunity to express opinions, both positive and negative, and when you get a raft of contributors all saying something is hideous, well it’s not nice to hear but sometimes negative criticism can be healthy. It will be the only time architects will get that sort of feedback – the rest of the time they exist in a professional cloud-cuckoo-land.
Nairn's Bairn
#10 Posted by Nairn's Bairn on 19 Oct 2018 at 10:36 AM
Further to my previous comment I am reminded of the following:

“A poor doctor can kill one patient, and he’ll be struck off.
A poor architect can kill a whole street, and other architects will laud him for his daring experiment.”
Fat Bloke on Tour
#11 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 19 Oct 2018 at 10:38 AM
The design is poor -- too fussy / trying too hard and failing.

Colour might work in the context of 100 years of weathering but today it stands out -- shouting look at me -- when it doesn't need to.

Material quality = Good.
Low level detailing = Good.
Metal sheeting = Will allow future generations to date the design down to the month.

Start with the basics -- why the gap and what was there before?

Fat Bloke on Tour
#12 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 19 Oct 2018 at 11:19 AM
Interesting the geographic dimension to the discussions on UR ...

Auld Reekie = Full engagement with instant rebuttal to any criticism.

West Central Scotland = Tumbleweed.

A parable for Modern day Scotland?
Showbiz Sam
#13 Posted by Showbiz Sam on 19 Oct 2018 at 11:53 AM
Dear FBoT, my point earlier was just that i find unsubstantiated negative criticism (opined taste) a pretentious pain and no one is any the wiser. Also, my perception about geographic tumbleweed on UR is just is not so, and it most certainly ain't no parable. I am afraid you don't half talk pish.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#14 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 19 Oct 2018 at 12:01 PM
Reel him / her / it in -- the fight is strong in this one.
Francesca Edge
#15 Posted by Francesca Edge on 19 Oct 2018 at 12:26 PM
I think this looks brilliant, I hope it weathers well.
#16 Posted by Charlie_ on 19 Oct 2018 at 12:27 PM
If you haven't been to architecture school your take on any additions to the built environment is merely 'unsubstantiated opined taste'! And also, YOU'RE pretentious.
#17 Posted by Clarinda on 19 Oct 2018 at 14:33 PM
I personally think this building looks great. The roof detailing fits in very well with its surrounding context with the varying pitch heights giving off a medieval vibe and the facade detailing helps the building from look "too modern".

Ultimately people will have different opinions however I think this has been a great solution for the site and much better than the derelict space it was. I understand the sandstone looks very bright compared to its neighboring buildings but they were once that colour and the building will weather over time.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#18 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 19 Oct 2018 at 14:51 PM
The problem with this building is that it tries too hard.

Same issue as the GU library -- it tries to mimic the skyline of a city in one building.

It surrounded by some medieval and post medieval tosh but at least they are true to themselves and offer some level of consistency. Unfortunately the weakest building in the district is its western neighbour and the new build then tries to overcompensate its untidiness with an even more complex form.

The Auld Reekie OT design vibe comes from the clash of individual styles at the building level -- not within an individual building itself.

This lesson seems to have been lost on the folk working up the new design.
#19 Posted by Shistine on 19 Oct 2018 at 18:28 PM
What an unmitigated disaster of a building. Looks like a Moxy hotel you’d see at a tertiary airport on mainland Europe. Utter fail!
Islands of sanity
#20 Posted by Islands of sanity on 19 Oct 2018 at 21:24 PM
This is a good contextual building which tackles a difficult and ugly gap site. Best viewed from North Bridge. Well done.
#21 Posted by E=mc2 on 21 Oct 2018 at 14:21 PM
The small hotel which Elder & Cannon deftly inserted into Brunswick St in the Merchant City in Glasgow years ago shows how this could have been done at a larger scale.
#22 Posted by googler on 22 Oct 2018 at 09:37 AM
#19 A quick google of 'European Moxy Hotels' reveals an array of boxy buildings with square windows clad in silver and grey composite panels with pink accent lighting....
I don't see any resemblance at all, care to explain?
#23 Posted by David on 22 Oct 2018 at 10:31 AM
I'm left somewhat disappointed by the reality after being excited by the original CGI designs. The facade appears to have lost any real depth in the stonework which was evident in the designs at planning stage, and the disconnnected 'fluting' to some of the vertical elements appears weak and confused.

On the face of it it looks like the facade has been value engineered, either that or too much medling from planning...
Eric the Viking
#24 Posted by Eric the Viking on 22 Oct 2018 at 11:48 AM
UR - criticism with impunity.
Jezza Alexander
#25 Posted by Jezza Alexander on 22 Oct 2018 at 13:57 PM
I'm interested to hear how FBOT would handle the site?
Fat Bloke on Tour
#26 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 22 Oct 2018 at 15:41 PM
First up -- they couldn't afford me.

If they could it would have been with a simpler, more consistent central element with a roof that follows the rules of its eastern neighbour -- slate and no jazz influence.

That would mean saving the contrast element to aid the transition / integration with the existing buildings.

Transition would be set back to allow for the details that are already in place. The turret on the western building is particulary tricky given its prominence.
Jezza Alexander
#27 Posted by Jezza Alexander on 23 Oct 2018 at 14:04 PM
I've interpreted that as basically replicating its neighbour (City Art Centre)?
#28 Posted by FBOTOTT on 23 Oct 2018 at 15:25 PM
Bring back Big Chantelle, all is forgiven. At least you knew what she was talking about...
Urban Realism
#29 Posted by Urban Realism on 12 Nov 2018 at 22:19 PM
#26 FBOT

I’d love to see some of the buildings you’ve designed in historically sensitive and complex sites.

Personally I think this is a great addition to the city. The stone will weather in time but anyone who has ever built anything in Edinburgh will know you don’t have much in the way of what kind of stone you get to use.

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