Competition win: Architects wHY will design cultural pavilion by Edinburgh Castle

We felt a personal connection to the Gardens and believe our design embodies how important collaboration and people are to making a place remarkable
– Kulapat Yantrasast, founder and creative director of wHY

An international design team led by US architects wHY have won the international competition to design the £25m Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens project in Edinburgh.

The Ross Development Trust together with the City of Edinburgh Council are replacing a bandstand on the site, which has fallen into disrepair, with a new visitor centre, café and flexible platform for cultural programming. The surrounding landscape is also being improved.

Competition organisers Malcolm Reading Consultants led the five-month search for a design team to take the project forward.

In total, there were 125 first-stage submissions. Seven studios were shortlisted, including BIG, Adjaye Associates and William Matthews Associates with Sou Fujimoto Architects, who have been awarded a special commendation by the jury for their proposal.

However, it is wHY’s collective of architects, landscape designers, makers and strategists who have won the unanimous approval of the judges with their vision for “an organic landscape-focused scheme that respects the historic setting but also animates the Gardens through the introduction of a new undulating promenade, transformed access from Princes Street, sculptural seating and dynamic open views.”

The jury praised the team’s concept design as “a beautiful and intensely appealing proposal that complemented, but did not compete with, the skyline of the City and the Castle.”

“We are confident that we have a winning concept that embodies an imaginative ensemble landscape approach, creating a wonderful stage for our iconic Edinburgh Castle,” said jury chair Norman Springford. “The design concept offers a creative energy and a series of unique elements which will all combine to create a new and contemporary landscape.”

Competition director Malcolm Reading added: “wHY is a creative force that has the rare skill of being able to produce design that is exciting yet also sensitive and humane – it is a delight to see them win so exuberantly.

“Their proposal is a landscape scheme that is really more like an energy-field: using animation and drama as well as open vistas, they transform the Gardens and create an experience that is much freer and organic. As is their style, they conscientiously sampled local opinion, and have come up with a design proposal that is engaging and refreshing.

“We would like to thank all the finalists for their hard work and enthusiasm – we were in no doubt over their connection to this wonderful project, and they produced diverse and well-reasoned concept designs.”

The team led by wHY also includes Edinburgh design studio GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth.

The group will now work with the Trust, the council, other stakeholders and public to take forward the project. Construction is expected to begin in 2018.

In their own words
wHY’s concept

Inspired by the Gardens’ geology and history – from the volcanic forces to the man-made energy of the Victorian pleasure garden – the design subtly positions the new visitor centre and the ‘butterfly’ Pavilion into the folds of the landscape, enabling the Castle to remain the main visual event. The scheme increases the amount of green space relative to hard surfaces within the Gardens and is, in the team’s words, ‘human scale with moments of drama… activating four layers of meaning within the Gardens: botanical, civic, commemorative and cultural.

Kulapat Yantrasast, Founder and Creative Director of wHY, said:

“wHY is built around an ecology of disciplines, the convergence of ideas, experience, nature and people. The Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens represent this convergence and this was the perfect ground to further our approach to design. To be selected from so many extraordinary thinkers is an honour. We felt a personal connection to the Gardens and believe our design embodies how important collaboration and people are to making a place remarkable.”

Mark Thomann, wHY’s Landscape Design Director, added:

“This is a special opportunity for a special place, not just for Edinburgh but the world. The new Ross Pavilion and Gardens draw from the rich natural history, heritage and creative spirit of Scotland, embodying a model approach for integrating public architecture and urban space in a top global city. Our team looks forward to realising this vision with the Ross Development Trust and the people of Edinburgh.”

wHY  Edinburgh  architecture  design  UNESCO  Ross Pavilion  Malcolm Reading 
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An international design team led by US architects wHY have won the international competition to design the £25m Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens project in Edinburgh. The Ross Development Trust together with the City of Edinburgh Council are replacing a bandstand on the site, which has fallen into disrepair, with a new visitor centre, café and flexible platform for cultural programming. The surrounding landscape is also being improved.
CLD,VAT,AAC,ARC,DES
wHY's competition-winning design proposal for the £25m Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens project in Edinburgh / wHY and Malcolm Reading Consultants
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