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smalltown boy
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Quartermile, Edinburgh

Mixed use redevelopment of former Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh by Gladedale Capital.

http://www.qmile.com/

Masterplan:



Aerial photos prior to demolition of maternity buildings, which sadly weren't retained:





Number 1 Quartermile Square (office) by Foster & Partners:





New build apartments by Foster & Partners;





Conversions of former David Bryce (?) hospital buildings by CDA:



 

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Flakey
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It's been fantastic to walk past this development going up everday for the last year (I walk up middle meadow walk), and it's so interesting to see how it's coming along. I really like the appartment buildings on Middle Meadow walk, I think the tiles really compliment the stone of the wonderful hospital buildings. The only part of the scheme I have yet to be sold on is the office headquarters building with it's green tinted glass- just don't know if I like the colour of the glass...
Out of interest, which were the maternity buildings?
 

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What's your opinion Macc? My memory is that its in a great bit of town, right next to the meadows, so it might end up being a terrific place to live. I'm amazed at how they have managed to transform grotty old victorian wards into really rather spectacular apartments.

From the map in your first post it looks like the mixed-use aspect might be more than lip service and actually be quite successful. I know bugger all about architecture though. Are Foster and co's blocks any good?
 

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I find the masterplan quite believable in terms of the general arrangement of the blocks but it will be the detail that will prove how much of a genuine mixed use development it is. Its hard to tell whether the connections are there to make it a convincing bit of city and whether the external spaces are actual living civic spaces or just the gaps between buildings.

The buildings themselves look to be typically Fosters slick. I expect them to be a little bit more convincing in real life than in the renders and, while the massing is, in areas, lumpy they will still be quite compelling. At the same time they will also be horribly bland and have little or no relation to the city they are in. Thats the pay off for Foster buildings. You get a good deal of rigour and (sometimes, the Armadillo at least is an exception) an eye for detail. In return you have to accept corporate style.
 

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smalltown boy
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Discussion Starter #6
It really is a great site - in between the old town and the meadows, a brief walk to the financial heart of the city around Lothian Road, and near the uni for all the mega rich Chinese students that they are apparently marketing it to.

In the aerial shots, the now demolished maternity buildings are at the bottom left hand corner. Tony Blair was born in the row of terraced houses, which were part of the complex. There was one really gorgeous 1930s stone building that fronted onto the Meadows. It's a real loss IMHO.

The original masterplan was more mixed than it is now - what is now Q1 conversion apartments was due to be a 5 star hotel designed by Richard Murphy, but they were unable to find an operator. However it is still quite a broad mix, and Q2 office (Number 1 Quartermile Square) has retail units on the ground floor, which front onto the retail and leisure areas. So they certainly aspire to having a bit of a heart to the development, and I'm sure they'll get a few style bars, delis and the like. With the volume of flats being built, the large office buildings (first of which is now mostly let) and the proximity to Edinburgh University and the ECA, I'm sure they'll probably be able to get a bit of life into the development. The retained boundary railings shown on the renders worries me a little - they could quite possibly cut down on the permeability of the site that the masterplan allows for. Also, it's not in any way unusual, but it doesn't make it any more right that the affordable housing is a completely separate block.

I've grown quite fond of the Foster blocks actually, and I say this as someone who doesn't like him at all. For buildings by them, they actually have quite a high degree of solid to the facades. As oats says, it recognises the heavy masonry of the surrounding buildings, but doesn't mimic it. The buildings utilise glazing in just the right way - the views from the £1.5m apartments at the top must be stunning. But Legs, 584 posts and you still say you know "bugger all about architecture"?
 

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smalltown boy
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Discussion Starter #7
I find the masterplan quite believable in terms of the general arrangement of the blocks but it will be the detail that will prove how much of a genuine mixed use development it is. Its hard to tell whether the connections are there to make it a convincing bit of city and whether the external spaces are actual living civic spaces or just the gaps between buildings.

The buildings themselves look to be typically Fosters slick. I expect them to be a little bit more convincing in real life than in the renders and, while the massing is, in areas, lumpy they will still be quite compelling. At the same time they will also be horribly bland and have little or no relation to the city they are in. Thats the pay off for Foster buildings. You get a good deal of rigour and (sometimes, the Armadillo at least is an exception) an eye for detail. In return you have to accept corporate style.
I disagree that they have "little or no relation to the city they are in". That is very much a criticism that I've made all too often of his stuff elsewhere, but I find this about as contextual as they do. The masterplan, which they did as well, pretty much just develops the existing grain of the site. I commented on the cladding above. The shape of the buildings as they rise also seems to be about creating a slightly picturesque roofscape, as you can see in the first and second photos.

And yeah, they seem to be typically Foster in terms of the slickness of the detailing. The difference in quality between these and the Bank of Scotland building in Tollcross by PJMP is huge. (To compare two glass, but otherwise utterly unalike buildings).
 

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But Legs, 584 posts and you still say you know "bugger all about architecture"?
:lol:

seriously though; maybe i don't know bugger all, I just find it much more interesting to read opinions of people like you and chaos who have taken time to study the subject, that's why I tried to elicit your opinion. I know a counter argument might be along the lines of 'everybody has to interact with buildings in some way so you might as well form an opinion' but therewithin lies the danger that I might expose my superficial, bland and populist tastes ;)
 

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I disagree that they have "little or no relation to the city they are in". That is very much a criticism that I've made all too often of his stuff elsewhere, but I find this about as contextual as they do. The masterplan, which they did as well, pretty much just develops the existing grain of the site. I commented on the cladding above. The shape of the buildings as they rise also seems to be about creating a slightly picturesque roofscape, as you can see in the first and second photos.

And yeah, they seem to be typically Foster in terms of the slickness of the detailing. The difference in quality between these and the Bank of Scotland building in Tollcross by PJMP is huge. (To compare two glass, but otherwise utterly unalike buildings).
Foster (or rather his team of accolytes) can get contextual but its contextual within a very narrow set of criteria. I can see your point about the roofscape but the general architectual expression is pure Fosters. The language rarely deviates much from his standard set of devices. At least it does follow its own logic though and better that than some half-baked overt contextualism.

I can also see your point about the grain of the site and that is obvious from the masterplan. There is no great deviation from the general form of what was there. Thats not a typical urban typology though and it remains unclear to me for now exactly how this will work as a bit of city. I fear that it actually wont, it will remain a gated complex with a series of linked or otherwise pavillions.

I guess though that its a little bit reassuring that not even Edinburgh is immune to the lure of the global commercial monster that is Fosters. Certainly that name carries a lot of clout, not least with the planners and in Edinburgh names do seem to count with them. If they like you you will get a chance even if what you propose isnt as contextual as they will demand of others.
 

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smalltown boy
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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, I wasn't saying it isn't pure Foster, but it's also a hell of better than some of the shockers that they've done in recent years (City Hall, More London etc) and I think it does a disservice to the project to that the buildings don't respond to the context. When I get into arguments with people about how Edinburgh shouldn't have the dreaded modern architecture, I always like to bring up Ian Begg's Scandic Crown, which if they are aware of it, they generally quite like. It's the worst example "half-baked overt contextualism". The facade is, to quote an opinion piece by Andy Stoane, "strangely academic tenement wallpaper". So superficially, it fits in with the Royal Mile easily. Ignoring the question of why a chain hotel should look like a series of 17th century tenements, it completely blocks off about 5 closes that could have been reinstated, as was so successfully done in John Hope's Holyrood North Masterplan. So I guess my point is that they've responded to context in a more interesting way than is typical for Edinburgh. Still looks 100% Foster, but never mind.

And the Quartermile does have a weird context. It's a massive site right on the edge of the city centre, that has never had any meaningful relationship with the rest of the city. It has always been a set of object buildings, and were this local authority housing then I guess it would be a huge problem, as there is an awful lot of landscape than no-one in particular is going to feel ownership for. But I imagine that there will be some fairly hefty service charges that will help maintain the landscaping etc.

And by the way that they've placed all the retail and the boutique hotel right in the middle of the site, I don't think there is any possibility that it could become completely gated. One of the units is designed for a metro style supermarket, and they will need to have outsiders coming in to make that lettable. There are some pretty clearly shown through routes, although it must be said they are not going to particularly convenient shortcuts for that many people.
 

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i went to check out my new flat today and its right next to The Meadows and literally 2 minutes down the road there was all these cranes and construction going on an it looked fantastic to see so muh development going on and th prospect of me living next to it all. had no idea that this was the infamous Quartermile that id heard so much about. fantastic :)
 

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Lucky man Schemie! Great location.
 

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control yourself
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ooo looks great! hope we see something like this happening at the Victoria Hospital when they move to their new premises! :)
 

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Thinking pink.
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High quality detailing from the Foster catalogue I agree. But I find Q2 pretty bleak when viewed from Lauriston Place.

And I'm very sad that the lovely wee Red Home's gone. Faux Queen Anne by Sydney Mitchell it was a treasure locked within the sombre Bryce blocks.
 

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Thinking pink.
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Simpsons could have made fantastic apartments. And the staircases were slow wide spirals to die for - oceanic and regal - a taste of the empire! Many of the city's finest bairns were delivered there.... myself being the most noted.
 

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smalltown boy
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Discussion Starter #17
I think I read somewhere that Simpsons had structural problems, and asbestos, not to mention the fact that it was built on top of ancient Indian burial ground. So it would have been difficult to convert. But I refuse to believe it would have been impossible, or even un-viable.

Is the Red Home then one that they were planning on dismantling and reconstructing elsewhere? Or was that another? And did it even happen?

The building I was born in at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, apparently no longer exists either.
 

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Thinking pink.
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Yes, I heard that asbestos made conversion impossible....

No, the building that James Simpson wanted to dismantle and recontruct was a fragment of George Watson's Hospital (William Adam) that was to the rear of the Surgical Block (Q1). The Red Home is the small red brick quad in the centre of the site that was a nurses home. They were refused permission to demolish in the first application so incorporated it into the scheme, but then came back in 2005/6 saying this was the only position within the whole site that they could place their piazza (despite at that point having vast razed areas) so a pretty little Flemish looking curiosity is being replaced by Q6 - high quality banality. I believe they might be keeping one of the corner turrets and resiting it, although it's not marked on the masterplan you've posted here.
 

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smalltown boy
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Discussion Starter #20
From the Edinburgh Evening News (emphasis mine - Commonwealth Games? Schommonwealth Games):

New Swedish bakery rises to challenge
BRIAN FERGUSON
([email protected])

SCOTLAND'S first Swedish bakery is set to open on the site of the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, it emerged today.

The venture, which will also feature a shop and licensed cafe-bar, will be the first retailer to open at the multi-million-pound Quartermile development in the city centre. Everything from breads, chocolates and open sandwiches to speciality ice cream, marmalade and teas will be on offer at Peter's Yard, which is due to open in time for Christmas.

Award-winning Swedish baker Jan Hedh will be overseeing the opening of the business, a joint venture with Swedish businessman Peter Ljungquift, and two Edinburgh-based partners.

They are bringing to Edinburgh a four-strong team of bakers for the venture, who will then train up staff expected to be hired locally.

Mr Hedh and Mr Ljungquift said they had been scouring Europe for a suitable site for a second venture following the success of the first bakery/cafe they set up in Ystad, in southern Sweden, six years ago.

However, Mr Ljungquift said: "We considered Budapest, Prague, Berlin, London and Paris, as well as closer to home in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

"But we had heard that Edinburgh was the most civilised city in northern Europe, particularly with its universities."


Sophie Dow, who is also a partner in the business with her husband Robin, said: "The bakery, the shop and the cafe will all be on the one site just off Middle Meadow Walk, and we'll also be running both a mail order service and a delivery service for breakfast and lunch.

"All kinds of breads will be available, but people will be able to come in and enjoy a tea and coffee, or even a Calvados or rum with their chocolates or cakes.

"As a Swede living in Scotland I've often found it difficult to find a good variety of quality bread."

News of the new venture has emerged just days after First Minister Alex Salmond hosted the official unveiling of the Quartermile development.

The first residents are expected to move in within the next few weeks, which will also see the unveiling of two major new roads through the site and the arrival of the first office workers.

The whole scheme - which is expected to take another five years to complete - will eventually boast more than 900 homes, 300,000sq ft of office space, cafes, bars and restaurants, a boutique hotel and a major public square.

Colin MacPherson, development director for Quartermile developers Gladedale Capital, said they expected to be able to announce more lettings soon.
 
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