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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to plant new roots

November 2 2018

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to plant new roots

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RGBE) is to embark on a major transformation of its famous glasshouses in order to improve its visitor experience, research and education.

Edinburgh Biomes will see existing glasshouses rebuilt and refurbished to safeguard plant collections, many of which are now extinct or endangered in their native habitats.

Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper of the RGBE said: “Our heritage Glasshouses need extensive restoration to save them for the nation. Our research Glasshouses, critical to the work we do in Scotland and around the world, are well beyond their lifespan and are already suffering during extreme weather. They will only survive a few more years without essential upgrades."

Smith Scott Mullan Associates have been commissioned to bring the project forward to planning which, if approved and subject to fundraising, would allow a staged build to be undertaken.

The first phase of any work would entail construction of a sustainable energy centre and plant health suite.

Smith Scott Mullan have previously been involved in the delivery of a new Alpine House for the research gardens.

A new extension is proposed for the current glasshouse
A new extension is proposed for the current glasshouse
An aerial view of the current glasshouses
An aerial view of the current glasshouses


Fat Bloke on Tour
#1 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 2 Nov 2018 at 11:57 AM
Funny how the Auld Reekie establishment can find shed loads of money to tart up a few middle class greenhouses when the Winter Garden at the People's Palace is being left to rot

Story of modern Scotland.
East Coast affluence / West Coast squalor.
#2 Posted by David on 2 Nov 2018 at 12:22 PM
There is plenty, if not more affluence in the Greater Glasgow area, the issue is the allocation of public funds, given that Glasgow is spread over seven different local authorities, and the general government bias towards the east that seems to have emerged since devoluton. Between the People's Palace Winter Garden, the Tollcross Glasshouse and the Springburn Winter Gardensm a great deal of money is now needed at this stage to bring them back into use.
I wonder where the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens are getting the money from to embark on such an ambitious project?
Fat Bloke on Tour
#3 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 2 Nov 2018 at 12:33 PM
Big generalisation I know but the at the moment all roads lead to Holyrood and its garden suburb.

Sore one to splash the cash for a middle class greenhouse in Auld Reekie when the Winter Garden is being shut to add to the growing list of public sector dereliction in the West.

Fitz Hat
#4 Posted by Fitz Hat on 2 Nov 2018 at 12:34 PM
If there is "East bias" it seems to centre exclusively on Edinburgh. Aberdeen gets no support or attention from the government or media.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#5 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 2 Nov 2018 at 12:55 PM
Things might be bad in the land of the Sheep but at least you are not Dundee ...

A place with plenty of fight.
Unfortunately not on the park but in the home dressing room

Joking aside the issue is the precedence of Auld Reekie since Holyrood came into being. They really do have ideas above their station at the moment and everybody else is paying the price.
H Scott
#6 Posted by H Scott on 2 Nov 2018 at 14:42 PM
RBGE is a national institution and nothing to do with Edinburgh City Council. People's Palace is the responsibility of Glasgow City Council. Edinburgh City Council get no preferential treatment from Holyrood over other councils.
It's also worth pointing out that Glasgow has a lot of Scottish Government civil servants and national institutions receiving government funding such as - in the cultural field alone - Scottish Ballet, SNO, Scottish Opera & National Theatre.
Alexander Fraser
#7 Posted by Alexander Fraser on 2 Nov 2018 at 15:20 PM
Why all the fuss about the old Edinburgh/Glasgow rivalry? Stop that nonsense and apply your thinking to positive ideas for improving/replacing the Glasgow greenhouses which, by the way, look very impressive and worth the effort to retain. Scotland is too small to allow futile shi-ites and their ingrained biases to obscure the opportunities around us.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#8 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 2 Nov 2018 at 16:19 PM
The RBGE is not a national institution -- it is a middle class allotment society milking the working class for all that it is worth.

The Glasgow galleries and museums are of national significance but they get funded out of local taxation by a local government organisation with limited and rapidly reducing resources and other pressing commitments.

It is galling to see funds being used for expansion in Auld Reekie while similar facilities in Glesga are having to close.

No matter the label on the cheque book this is all about the use of public funds and how one area seems to be prospering at the expense of others.
Why Not?
#9 Posted by Why Not? on 2 Nov 2018 at 16:48 PM
#Fat Bloke on Tour
"The RBGE is not a national institution -- it is a middle class allotment society milking the working class for all that it is worth."

That statement alone FBoT, shows the lack of knowledge you have regarding the work and importance that RBGE does.. I would suggest that you stop before you embarrass yourself further. Or better yet, actually go there speak to the people who are actually involved in looking after and learning about the plantlife. It might help you understand why this proposal is so important.

(FBoT, You have on many occasion in the past show your keen understand of architecture and design policy on other buildings and structures, so perhaps you could apply that astonishing and brilliant intellect of yours to understanding such a fundamental as biodiversity and how important looking after "such middle class allotment" asl well as all the plants that it contains, not to mention role that the "society" which apparently "milking the working class for all that it is worth" is.)

Back on topic, This development is very much needed to safeguard the biodiversity that is housed within, having spoken in the past to members of the staff at RBGE. The current building is woefully old and extremely difficult to maintain especially through the winters like last year.

It will be interesting to see how this design is developed up, and also how it will be built, given the site on which it on is current home to amazing amount of plants and fauna that could be at risk if they are left unprotected or exposed to the Scottish climates. One wonders what the plan will be?

Certainly Scott Smith Mullan have had experience in work with the gardens, looking at the their portfolio, so hopefully that relationship and engagement will help them through the developing up to be a comprehensive design for the planning.

#10 Posted by StyleCouncil on 3 Nov 2018 at 08:04 AM
Top image/ design by SSM is rank, but entirely in keeping with the rest of their portfolio.
I am assuming that such commissions are tendered... not picked on merit/ skill?
David Bellamy
#11 Posted by David Bellamy on 3 Nov 2018 at 09:56 AM
Yet again, woefully and embarrassingly wide of the mark. I'd chuck it, if I were you.
I wonder if you have ever experienced what it feels like to be standing amid the wonder and physicality of a truly bio-diverse eco-system and see how infinitesimally insignificant you actually are?
This was headline news this morning:
John Connelly
#12 Posted by John Connelly on 3 Nov 2018 at 13:23 PM
Once we have a fairer and equitable political system post independence, a workers committee can make such investment decisions, ie decide whether it’s right to give more public money to a bourgeois glasshouse for the rich and their elitist plant collection - all with fancy Latin names - or give it to a democratic, working class greenhouse sadly in need of money having been starved of resources by those in position to do so. Workers plants for the workers, chosen by err , workers and not banker type of err repression isn’t racist oppressors preserving their idea of neo-cryptic botany that keeps the workers down. Clear?
#13 Posted by CADMonkey on 3 Nov 2018 at 14:00 PM
Maybe if Glasgow didn't keep burning down its best building there would be more cash to repair the rest of its buildings. Last I heard was a £100m(+) repair bill being stumped up for Mack3.
#14 Posted by Sven on 3 Nov 2018 at 19:40 PM
Can someone explain the first image. It looks like a council built brown brick building from 1978 that someone has made 'modern' by adding in some metal panels. It really does jar with the blonde sandstone on other buildings in the gardens.
#15 Posted by Inahuf on 5 Nov 2018 at 09:23 AM
Ooof that’s poor, I thought their alpine bus shelter was clunky - like a 5 minute sketch given to an over cautious engineer to develop - but that brick box would be an awful addition to the gardens. Based on that image SSM should stick to converting buildings for the RBGE and leave the new build to Cullinans or anyone who can work with a sensitive context.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#16 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 6 Nov 2018 at 13:35 PM
I fear some doth protest too much regarding this project. We now have "Big Reekie" -- just as we have Big Oil / Big Auto / Big Pharma -- in full flow trying to justify another tranche of public sector investment being delivered to the "capital".

As noted in the article this effort is being carried out to "improve its visitor experience, research and education" against an estate that is still in a usable condition.

You then have the usual icing on the cake regarding a "sustainable energy centre and plant health suite" to rub salt into an open wound.

Timing is everything -- This money no object plan grates in the context of glasshouses shutting out west on top of a historical issue of glasshouse dereliction.

Then there is the sense of entitlement that the Middle Class Allotment Society are somehow special on a seemingly global scale -- well tripe to that. They are Bono with a trowel.

Maybe if they hadn't taken the plants in the first place they wouldn't be extinct now in their natural habitat.

Finally if Scotland is critical to this exercise then why not involve the whole of Scotland rather than just a few distressed gentle folk who couldn't hack it in Financial Services?
#17 Posted by Sven on 7 Nov 2018 at 16:15 PM
"improve its visitor experience, research and education"

Which means a coffee shop and restaurant, function space and some pokey offices. It is a botanical garden and not a business park, although the planned building would look at home in a dreary regional town centre.

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