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Council launches design search

£25m call for revamp of ageing bandstand

Ross BandstandA £25 million international design competition has been launched today to replace Edinburgh’s ageing Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens.

The 2,400 capacity bandstand is the venue for Edinburgh’s famed Hogmanay Concert and has played host in the past to high profile rock and pop acts, including Simple Minds, the Pet Shop Boys, Blondie, Madness and Biffy Clyro.

It also takes centre stage for the Edinburgh Festival Fireworks Concert and is loved by locals and tourists alike.

However, it is showing its age and a campaign has been under way for some time to replace it with a more suitable venue.

The current structure was built in 1935 but acts have been performed from the location since 1877 when it was gifted to the city by William Henry Ross, chairman of the Distillers Company.

Malcolm Reading Consultants has today launched the international search for a team to design a pavilion for the bandstand, a visitor centre and café, and surrounding landscape.

Architects are being asked to submit ideas incorporating “the essence of Edinburgh” with work set to start next year.

Norman Springford, chief executive of the Apex Hotel Group and chairman of the Ross Development Trust, is the competition chairman. He has pledged more than £5m of his private funds to the project.

He said: “This is one of the most important places in Scotland and we want it to communicate the very essence of Edinburgh: a dynamic city with an unrivalled arts and cultural pedigree – a city that’s forward-looking while tuned into its history.

“We would like the Pavilion to have an original design of international quality and significance that says ‘Edinburgh.

“Designers will need to be sensitive to context and historic setting – the Castle being a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the Gardens having botanical, commemorative and civic interest.”

The Ross Development Trust has revealed that further individual gifts have already been pledged and further fundraising will be undertaken.

Edinburgh’s culture convener, councillor Richard Lewis, said: “This is a unique opportunity for an architect to re-imagine one of the most stunning settings in Scotland. The Ross Bandstand boasts 80 years of concerts and events including Edinburgh’s world-famous Festivals.

“This design competition is a unique chance to revitalise the venue and the surrounding gardens, including the city’s historic Ross Fountain. It will be fascinating to see the finalists’ concept designs and I’m certain the brief will generate huge interest.”

Malcolm Reading, competition director, said: “This is a site with strategic position, a rich and varied topography, not to mention a 900-year-old Castle on hand.  A Pavilion offers designers one of the ultimate creative tests – the potential to create a world-within-a-world.

“The competition will create not only a civic emblem but also a living entity, a much-needed platform at the heart of the city, for national and local events, to re-energise this valued green space.”

Other improvements will include restoring the Ross Fountain to full working order, refurbishing the three rain shelters next to the Floral clock and replacing the road access bridge leading to King’s Stables Road.


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