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Old February 7th, 2014, 07:28 PM   #1
Kenspeckle
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Edinburgh | Fantasy Projects

A new thread for architectural flights of fancy.

A couple of weeks back on the Garden District thread we were discussing high-density development within the city as preferable to urban sprawl on the green belt. I felt Seafield had potential for that kind of thing and ken2000ac asked me to elaborate. Once I started, I got a bit carried away and since this is firmly in the realm of fantasy, it seemed appropriate to start this new thread (plus I've always enjoyed Glasgow's one!).

_______________________________________


Seafield Redevelopment

A residential-led development providing approximately 3500-4000 homes, local services & retail, landscaped seafront, transport corridor, enhanced public realm and leisure facilities.


The Site

The masterplan area covers approximately 75 acres along 1.2 miles of Seafield Road, from King's Road in Portobello in the southeast to Seafield Road in the northwest, including 0.75 miles of waterfront on Portobello Beach.



The area currently has a mix of uses, none of which are residential. Despite occupying an attractive and dramatic site along Portobello Beach, it is dominated by the light industrial units and car dealerships of the Seafield Industrial Estate. Lothian Buses depot and the Edinburgh Cat & Dog Home also occupy eastern waterfront potions of the site, while retail warehouses, a recycling centre and waste ground characterise the western end.

Existing site character




The Proposal

West Masterplan

25 acres – approximately 1000-1250 homes, community sport centre, ground floor retail/commercial units on Seafield Road.



This area is bounded by Seafield Road to the north, and the Craigentinny Recreation Grounds to the south. Although outwith the masterplan boundary, the adjacent Seafield Water Treatment Works (a significant factor inhibiting wider development of the area) would be capped and covered with a green roof - the £50m so-called “full coverage” option proposed when the east end of Leith Docks was zoned for residential development. This would completely mask the treatment facilities from public view, eliminate odours, and create a 20-acre coastal meadow as a haven for wildlife.

The current heavy rail line to Leith Docks would become a new transport corridor through the length of the site, shared between a cycle/foot path and an extension to the Edinburgh tram network, linking the Port of Leith (North Edinburgh line) to Portobello Station (later expansion line on the former South Suburban Railway serving the south of the city).

The current Craigentinny Recreation Grounds would be redeveloped in conjuction with a newly built sports centre serving the wider Seafield and Craigentinny communities.

The easternmost development would address and reinforce the urban form of Seafield Road, and accommodate a modest number of street-level units for retail/commercial use. The remainder of the site would be residential, with a mix of high-density courtyards and linear blocks, interspersed with informal clusters of medium-density residential buildings. Landscaped corridors cut across the site, providing views south towards Craignentinny Golf Course and Holyrood Park and north across the Forth to Fife.

Residential Character




East Masterplan

50 acres – approximately 2500-2750 homes, landmark residential tower, marine gardens, landscaped promenade and pier, local services, waterfront commercial & leisure use.



This area straddles Seafield Road, bounded by the new transport corridor/tram line to the south and Portobello Beach to the north.

A tram stop is located at the southern end of a new public space – a contemporary interpretation of the Edinburgh Marine Gardens which occupied this site a century earlier. The landscaping extends across the site and over the beach and the waters of the Forth as part of a striking feature pier, which also supports leisure/watersports facilities.

The ¾ mile length of raised promenade is landscaped with trees, featuring sheltered seating areas, viewing decks over the beach, and an active edge to the waterfront buildings, with a number of ground floor units for restaurant/cafe and leisure use.

Public Realm Character




The most striking feature of the entire development is the landmark tower – a sculptural and slender high-end residential tower with a small footprint, its uppermost floors accommodate a restaurant/sky bar and a glazed public viewing deck with unparalleled panoramas over the city, across the waters of the Firth of Forth and beyond. Previously unrealised tower proposals for Edinburgh at Granton and Leith have been in the range of 90-120m. The Seafield site is farther from the historic city core than these locations – three miles from city centre – so a more ambitious 125-150m tower (35-45 floors) is proposed. The tower would be a major visitor attraction in its own right and become the iconic symbol for the development and the east of the city.

Residential Tower Exemplars




Like the west masterplan, the vast majority of the east site is residential, with the exception of some local retail/services and a beachfront hotel beside the tower. Residential buildings would be high-density (4-10 floors), with varied facade treatments, balcony types and roof heights within individual blocks to break down the large scale of the buildings. Sheltered inner courtyard gardens will be semi-public spaces while roof terraces are common areas for residents, with greenhouses, allotments and viewing decks – extensive green roofing collects rainwater and support solar arrays. All buildings across the development have undercroft car parking to minimise the presence of cars in the public realm.

Residential Character



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Old February 7th, 2014, 11:53 PM   #2
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This may be mundane, but here goes...

I DREAM of a properly restored Princes Street: one befitting the grand location. I get depressed walking down Princes Street sometimes; rather than a good street I see one that should have been great. It is plagued by terrible shops, poor quality paving, litter and shoddy architecture.

My dream is for a radical new vision for Princes Street, with the removal of a number of carbuncles ( New Club at 86 Princes Street !!! ) and a new high standard for shops ( no tourist tat and bargain basement stores).

I only add it to this thread as it is beginning to feel like a fantasy. While we are on the topic, is there likely to be any prospect of the New Club at 86 Princes Street ever being shifted? Please tell me its possible...
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Old February 8th, 2014, 12:51 AM   #3
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I know I'm a lone voice on this, but I think the New Club is wonderful.

------------

Kenspeckle - are you an architect/architecture student?
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Old February 8th, 2014, 01:39 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maccoinnich View Post
I know I'm a lone voice on this, but I think the New Club is wonderful.

------------

Kenspeckle - are you an architect/architecture student?
There's always one
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Old February 8th, 2014, 11:39 AM   #5
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Wow, elaborate you did!!

I might be a little sore at you for removing EDCH, as that's my kennel of choice. Then again, doubtful people would want to live next to 24 hour barking.

You said "firmly in the realm of fantasy", is this because it would be near impossible to relocate all this industry, or find funding and approval from the council?
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Old February 8th, 2014, 01:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maccoinnich View Post
I know I'm a lone voice on this, but I think the New Club is wonderful.

------------

Kenspeckle - are you an architect/architecture student?
I've also got a bit of bit of a guilty crush on the New Club (there's just something about that floating roofline!), but, like Dee, would also love have seen a Princes Street without the post-war architecture, the original Georgian street fronts or in the late 19th century when Robert Louis Stevenson described it as 'a terrace of palaces' - as a rule, in my opinion, the later developments only detract.

And to answer you're question, maccoinnich, no, I'm not.
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Old February 8th, 2014, 01:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken2000ac View Post
Wow, elaborate you did!!

I might be a little sore at you for removing EDCH, as that's my kennel of choice. Then again, doubtful people would want to live next to 24 hour barking.

You said "firmly in the realm of fantasy", is this because it would be near impossible to relocate all this industry, or find funding and approval from the council?
If it makes you feel better I felt pangs of guilt about evicting the Cat and Dog Home! I'm also a fan. In this particular alternate reality I'd see them rehoused in a lovely new facility on the Edmonstone Estate or somewhere nice like that.

I don't think development of Seafield is impossible, but the tallest building in Scotland and a few other features I included pushed it into architectural fantasy! I've also never heard even the slightest rumour of anything happening there, though in theory it's nothing a few CPOs couldn't fix (car dealerships relocate to Newcraighall, light industrial units to Millerhill or similar?). It would be great for east Edinburgh to have something a bit special to counter the gravitational pull of the centre and west of the city. If, or should I say, when Edinburgh's booming in the future and available land at Leith, W Harbour and Granton has already been used, then Seafield would surely become a candidate for development, but sadly I can't see it happening any time soon.

I've just always thought Seafield, shabby and unloved as it is, has such amazing potential. I mean, it has nearly a mile of beachfront! What self-respecting city would leave that to a handful of car dealers and a bus garage? And to get back to what started this madness in the first place, I'd much rather see 3500 homes built there on 75 acres of brownfield land than on 650 acres of green belt as the Garden District.

Last edited by Kenspeckle; February 8th, 2014 at 01:30 PM.
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Old February 8th, 2014, 03:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenspeckle View Post
I've just always thought Seafield, shabby and unloved as it is, has such amazing potential. I mean, it has nearly a mile of beachfront! What self-respecting city would leave that to a handful of car dealers and a bus garage? And to get back to what started this madness in the first place, I'd much rather see 3500 homes built there on 75 acres of brownfield land than on 650 acres of green belt as the Garden District.
Agree 100% with all of this. You might be a little over the top with the Malmo tower, but I can't fault you. Could at least aim high and inevitably still end up with something approved to be proud of.

In fact, you've put together enough information that surely you could attract some attention with those who have the means to get the ball rolling.
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Old February 8th, 2014, 04:22 PM   #9
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Fantastic post, Kenspeckle! It's always been at the back of my mind that the land usage at Seafield is a complete waste of waterfront, although I've never actively thought about how it could look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dee-lightful View Post
This may be mundane, but here goes...

I DREAM of a properly restored Princes Street: one befitting the grand location. I get depressed walking down Princes Street sometimes; rather than a good street I see one that should have been great. It is plagued by terrible shops, poor quality paving, litter and shoddy architecture.

My dream is for a radical new vision for Princes Street, with the removal of a number of carbuncles ( New Club at 86 Princes Street !!! ) and a new high standard for shops ( no tourist tat and bargain basement stores).

I only add it to this thread as it is beginning to feel like a fantasy. While we are on the topic, is there likely to be any prospect of the New Club at 86 Princes Street ever being shifted? Please tell me its possible...
Much of that shouldn't be fantasy - but a minimum expectation! That said, I've seen many more positive things done with Princes Street in the last decade than the one before. The new hotels attributed to the Council's String of Pearls initiative are very welcome, retail lettings have generally been an improvement on what was there and of course the forthcoming arrival of the trams will have an impact.

The council now needs to get some teeth regarding things in their domain - public realm, pedestrian space, and traffic and parking management. The trams have legitimately delayed all those decisions, but the City Centre Vision should be trialled so plans for public realm can be drawn up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenspeckle View Post
I've also got a bit of bit of a guilty crush on the New Club (there's just something about that floating roofline!), but, like Dee, would also love have seen a Princes Street without the post-war architecture, the original Georgian street fronts or in the late 19th century when Robert Louis Stevenson described it as 'a terrace of palaces' - as a rule, in my opinion, the later developments only detract.
If Princes Street could be rebuilt as it was in 1920, that would be a fantasy project for me!

The New Club could be greatly improved through immediate demolition of the adjoining Abbey Business Centre, which would remove the offensive squat proportions of grey granite that the two combined presently create. The remaining New Club shop front line should then be brought forward to the original building line and the overhanding 'walkway' trimmed back in depth to be flush.

I'd then authentically rebuild the frontage of the Life Association building:


If only...
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Old February 9th, 2014, 02:36 AM   #10
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"Restore Princes Street"? To what? Edwardian? Victorian? Georgian? Tosh. Enhance its variety and get rid if the mediocre maybe but I'm with Macconnich.
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Old February 9th, 2014, 11:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by belle View Post
"Restore Princes Street"? To what? Edwardian? Victorian? Georgian? Tosh. Enhance its variety and get rid if the mediocre maybe but I'm with Macconnich.
Make Princes Street more varied? Is that even possible?! There must be what, sixty or seventy buildings on Princes Street? I doubt not more than two or three are from the same decade, from the 1770s to the present (with the possible exception of the 1940s). It has to be one of the most varied streets in the world! I think it was the late Charles McKean who described it as "architectural fruit salad."

You're right about replacing the mediocre though, but the challenge would be what with. Although I was nostalgic a few posts back about what's been lost, that was more a fantasy about somehow preventing the loss in the first place but, unlike Dee and Leki, I wouldn't want to see anything rebuilt in an historic style.

Rather than more variety, I'd prefer to see less. Bring in a single visionary architect to design a sensitive and cohesive grand scheme of replacements for selected inferior buildings along the whole street, preserving the urban grain and enhancing the best existing architecture - the New Club included!

But more variety of use certainly. As well as enhanced retail, I'd like to see residential on upper floors (huge scope for that), more hotels and restaurants, and why not a major cultural building - a new gallery devoted to Scottish art adjacent to the Academy and National Gallery, or a new Edinburgh Museum (Huntly House can get the Gladstone's Land treatment) towards the western end with dramatic views of the Castle?

Last edited by Kenspeckle; February 9th, 2014 at 12:31 PM.
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Old February 9th, 2014, 01:22 PM   #12
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I don't actually want to see anything rebuilt; my notion of 'restore' was rather to restore the quality and consistency of the whole. To me, that means getting rid of the carbuncles (and there are certainly a few), and making the overall aesthetic more consistent.

The last thing Princes Street needs is more variety - it's inconsistency is headache inducing. There are contexts in which this would work, but Princes Street is not one.
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Old February 9th, 2014, 02:49 PM   #13
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Sorry, must've misunderstood. Looks like we're definitely on the same page!

It's a bit similar to the Princes Street Framework proposed by Malcolm Fraser Architects a few years ago.

Quote:
Princes Street is the greatest retail stage in the world, but its shopping environment is poor. It contains many low quality, under-occupied buildings that fail to offer decent retail space, fail to take advantage of their magnificent setting, and are of little or no heritage value. The Princes Street environs also contain major financial institutions that are planning to move out of substantial estates that contain major listed palazzos. There is considerable opportunity for these sites to provide for the retail needs of Edinburgh.

The redevelopment essentially works by grouping weak and underperforming buildings into larger sites. Within some of these ‘super-sites’ a mall can be introduced (resembling Princes Square in Glasgow) which massively increases the existing retail frontage by wrapping it, on multi-stories, back into the site. Dramatic views of the Castle and Old Town may also be exploited, through a glazed street elevation to the malls.






Sort of the right idea, but since this is a fantasy project, I'd rather see an international competition to find the right architect - no offence to Mr Fraser!

Last edited by Kenspeckle; February 14th, 2014 at 06:28 PM.
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Old February 10th, 2014, 02:30 AM   #14
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Dug up a few images from an old Princes Street design doc (2003) showing some of the buildings targeted for replacement. Certainly none of these would be missed.







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Old February 10th, 2014, 12:59 PM   #15
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Hope that that this doc is still on the council's mind. Would not miss these units at all; would be great to see them gone within the next decade.
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Old February 10th, 2014, 08:02 PM   #16
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Hi all,

I'm new to this forum and I have found the various threads very interesting. I really like the idea of redeveloping Seafield, even if it id just a flight of fancy. I grew up in Leith and am familiar with the Seafield area as I went to the beach a lot as a kid. Even back then the Seafield area was depressing - it always reminded me of a Sunday!! I like the ideas that Kenspeckle posted, especially the tower. I really think Edinburgh lacks this kind of architecure.

As an aside it has always annoyed me about the height restrictions the Council impose, especially in central Edinburgh. While I agree that we do not want the Castle obscured for every side, I can't help but feel that the Exchange area has been a missed oportunity, for some taller and more exciting buildings.

Cheers

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Old February 11th, 2014, 12:42 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonesome Boatman View Post
Hi all,

I'm new to this forum and I have found the various threads very interesting. I really like the idea of redeveloping Seafield, even if it id just a flight of fancy. I grew up in Leith and am familiar with the Seafield area as I went to the beach a lot as a kid. Even back then the Seafield area was depressing - it always reminded me of a Sunday!! I like the ideas that Kenspeckle posted, especially the tower. I really think Edinburgh lacks this kind of architecure.

As an aside it has always annoyed me about the height restrictions the Council impose, especially in central Edinburgh. While I agree that we do not want the Castle obscured for every side, I can't help but feel that the Exchange area has been a missed oportunity, for some taller and more exciting buildings.

Cheers

LB
Welcome to the forum, LB!

Building heights in Edinburgh is certainly a thorny issue. Personally, I think the council are right to protect the skyline of the city's core. I'd include the Exchange in that and in fact there are quite a few existing tall late c. 20th buildings I think the city would be better off without (Appleton Tower, I'm looking at you). However, I'd love to see some tall stuff along the waterfront if it was of a high design quality. An individual project of 100m+ would look stunning at Granton or Leith Docks (or my pet project at Seafield!). If little Malmö can pull off the Turning Torso, then Edinburgh can do it too. I also wouldn't mind some taller (but not super tall) buildings to the west - I think Edinburgh Park could handled a higher density.
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Old February 11th, 2014, 01:16 AM   #18
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Alan Reiach & Robert Hurd described it as a street of bickering shopfronts back in '44 and I'm wary of any attempt to tame it. Maybe enhance was the wrong word. Embrace the variety and don't impose cohesion, it's not as if the city's short of cohesive elevations. I know Charlotte Sq is our Georgian Jewel but the variety if St Andrew Sq is much more interesting.

Nice to see the Pearl Necklace reappear.
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Old February 12th, 2014, 03:21 AM   #19
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I agree, it's a shame that there is zero interest in Granton for a large project to kick things off around there. However economic downturn aside it was a 30 year master plan so although delayed we can only hope...

I loved the idea of the Thistle tower.. (I can't link images or websites, it says post denied.) there is a good graphic on the Urban Designs website.
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Old February 12th, 2014, 03:32 AM   #20
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I agree, it's a shame that there is zero interest in Granton for a large project to kick things off around there. However economic downturn aside it was a 30 year master plan so although delayed we can only hope...

I loved the idea of the Thistle tower.. (I can't link images or websites, it says post denied.) there is a good graphic on the Urban Designs website.
This?



I think it was part of the Make Architects / Ken Shuttleworth master plan. I've been meaning to put together a post on some of the Granton proposals for the Unbuilt Edinburgh thread...
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