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Shrunken Dunard Centre set for 2022 start

August 12 2021

Shrunken Dunard Centre set for 2022 start

Impact Scotland are to submit a variation to their planning application for a purpose-built concert hall in the heart of Edinburgh later this week.

Changes brought about by concerns over scale saw architect Sir David Chipperfield, in collaboration with Reiach & Hall, instructed to downsize the £75m Dunard Centre to appease the owners of the St James Centre. Retaining a neoclassical air the design will serve as the missing link in re-establishing St Andrew Square, Register Lanes and the St James Quarter as a cohesive chunk of the city.

Chipperfield commented: “Tucked behind Dundas House and on axis with George Street, the Dunard Centre occupies a strategic site linking the formal qualities of St. Andrew Square and the New Town with the more intimate atmosphere of lanes around Register House towards the new St. James Quarter.

"The identity of the building is determined by its circular form, contributing to the silhouette of the city and enclosing a 1,000-seat hall. This flexible world-class facility is designed to adapt to a wide-ranging programme of performances and cultural activities, ensuring it will serve as a meaningful new addition to the life and fabric of Edinburgh.”

While massing has been reduced the auditorium capacity remains constant at 1,000, while maintaining education, conferencing and hospitality operations.

Subject to planning consent construction could finally get underway in 2022 and be complete by 2025. 

Edinburgh St James had argued that the original proposal was too 'overbearing'
Edinburgh St James had argued that the original proposal was too 'overbearing'
The auditorium roof will no longer obscure views of a Jestico + Whiles hotel from St Andrew Square
The auditorium roof will no longer obscure views of a Jestico + Whiles hotel from St Andrew Square


#1 Posted by BemusedCitizen on 12 Aug 2021 at 08:51 AM
So, let me get this straight. That lovely domed roof (which accentuated the curvature) had to be removed and the building generally lowered because ... *checks notes* ... some thick-mincer didn't want his giant brown (not golden, as sold) jobbie obscured from one particular angle? What the hell is going on in Edinburgh?
#2 Posted by KLD on 12 Aug 2021 at 10:42 AM
My that's a lot of concrete.

About the best thing you can say about this building is that Dundas House manages to largely conceal it from the west. That first picture though - it looks like a mistake from the 70s that's already overdue for demolition.
#3 Posted by TheMember on 12 Aug 2021 at 11:23 AM
Is that concrete? In the pics it looks more like some sort of corrugated metal cladding. It has a very industrial / business park feel about it. Agree that the roof looked good though. It's odd that's the part they got rid of.
#4 Posted by Robert on 12 Aug 2021 at 11:36 AM
A city that is very picky about the style of double glazing people can fit in their own tenement flats would allow this concrete monstrosity to be built in the city centre .... it may be for the arts, but it is very disappointing in such a prominent site!
#5 Posted by AA on 12 Aug 2021 at 11:38 AM
@1. Yes, but also mostly because two floors from the hotel would have lost their view and therefore slightly higher value.... Which is obviously much more important than providing a building actually useful and accessible to Edinburgh's residents and in-keeping with the language of the New Town.

The new scheme appears to have lost some of its elegance, which is a shame. However the standard of finish looks like it will still be excellent. Overall I'm glad that the scheme is still going ahead.
#6 Posted by Eric on 12 Aug 2021 at 13:02 PM
Jesus wept.
It reminds me of Chernobyl. Are there no half decent architects left?
Robin B's Discount
#7 Posted by Robin B's Discount on 12 Aug 2021 at 13:52 PM
You guys are being very unfair to old Sir Dave 'Chippy' Chipperfield. For what its worth, i think he has absolutely nailed the design inspiration, which is of course the concrete water tower in Easterhouse.

Great work by the Knight of the Realm!
#8 Posted by tiptoe on 12 Aug 2021 at 14:22 PM
well, going by these images, we now have a firm favorite for the "plook on a plinth" award. A building ripe for over cladding in 20 years time
town planner
#9 Posted by town planner on 12 Aug 2021 at 14:31 PM
The originally proposed domed roof was fantastic, gutted to see it stripped back to this degree. Why is the commercial interest of a hotel given such weight in planning decisions?
#10 Posted by CR on 13 Aug 2021 at 18:06 PM
So an elegant new cultural building which should have prominence in the city and an appropriate civic setting; think Usher Hall, MacEwan Hall, Palais Garnier, Kursaal San Sebastian, Olso Opera House is shoe-horned into the car park behind a bank and reduced in scale to render it invisible and subservient to an ugly commercial development that tries too hard to be 'interesting' - nice work Edinburgh. What went wrong?
#11 Posted by Paul on 17 Aug 2021 at 14:33 PM
This facility should be located in Leith.
#12 Posted by E=mc2 on 19 Aug 2021 at 13:11 PM
Hope Reiach & Hall make a better job of this DCA design than Keppie did with BBC building in Glasgow

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