I Brave new world

While Orwell was writing 1984, Abercrombie and Plumstead were busy reinventing Edinburgh to fit in with what they imagined would be the realities of life in the late 20th century. Their Civic Survey and Plan is an ambitious and well-intentioned attempt to provide for the pressing needs of the times: "the increased development of a near-by coalfield (this was all pre-Thatcher remember), the mounting volume oftraffic. . . suburban sprawl . . . a new conception of living standards in the old quarters. . . a desire fora more regular distribution of open space . . . diversification of industry . . . accommodation fora festival.‘

The solution they came up with was Zoning, the buzz word of their day. They argued that "all land. except that directly used for routes of transport, must be zoned for specific use‘; Residential, Industrial, Open Spaces, Commercial, Educational etc. The idea of mixed use of parts of a city with shops, offices, houses and factories all close together horrified them mainly because of the level of pollution “open spaces shrouded in smoke, river valleys blocked with industrial waste and effluent, and many other discordancies‘.

But their enthusiasm for road schemes went to their heads. The New Town would have been spared but many Georgian buildings elsewhere in the city were to be written off: ‘[they] by no means deserve pride of place in Edinburgh‘s heritage. Why then allow them to stand in the way of a great project?‘








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I Princes Street by-pass

Athree-decker road windows would bethe scheme. The uppermost by-pass for all through deck being the existing traffic. According tothe Princes Street which planners‘ report. "the would become primarily a visiting tourist may then service link road; the drive on either one of middle one. some ten feet these three levels and below but beside it. would admire this magnificent be for car parking and panorama with a southern promenade: the lowest. lit aspect‘. 3 a u _ _ ,mmammm I Scott Monument I Castles in the air medieval architecture. The judges seeking an Mad Ludwig of Bavaria Although Lord l’anmure. appropriate monument to could hardly have done a then Secretary of State for One OIthCir bCSl-IOVCd betterjobonthisone. War loved sons organised a Colonel Richard Clement the idea, when the plans competition to find a Moody, held the post of were sent down the road suitable dCSign. Over 50 ‘Royal Engineer in North to Queen Victoria: for entries were submitted Britain‘ and his approval they were given comprising 22 Gothic inspiration for the castle's rather short shrift. s structures, 14 Grecian temples, ll statues, 5 pillars, a fountain and this obelisk by William L , Playfair - i What might have become fl” known as Walter‘s Needle A T T‘ I , ' g F 374-3.; wasintendedby Playfair l . -- il' ' ._ '9 a 5 ~ 5 g f: a l' r “TW‘ . " - -= r ‘aera‘zall tobeerectedatthewest . t ', mm m. _ I z. , E a” .l a! 1 EndoanncesStreetin 2'" fl” Wax-,- 3 " ' r .N .u , h’ *. 3"“ frontofwhatisnowthe I" .r .1 . ' Y I _ m. “r ' Caledonian HotelThe 3". - "”"**‘ & . _ . - fl‘ elaborategothic ,l r”. ’1“?- , .3 V skyscraperwhich finally "" / /.’ I -_‘" I i 1 s L a; ., won thejudges‘favour M4” / ’-“ j C I ' ,,,.. 'w M ‘. wasdesigned byone . 35737:? 4.}, ' V - a -" _ GeorgeMeikleKemp r J" > ' .v ,' ' W ,\ who drownedtragicallyin , ' ' If ' * '1 the Union Canaleight st, ,. / .r, r months before his _ Q"

creation was completed.

12 The List 8- 21 November 1991