The Old Town’s Victoria Street.
‘The opportunities for public consultation are poor in Britain.‘ says Wilson. ‘By turning projects over to competitions we could involve the broader community.‘
On a small scale. the architecture centre is already a reality in a converted shop unit on the Canongate. but its permanent home would be a £10 million building on a gap site off Morrison Street. The three partners behind the bid the district and regional councils and the local enterprise company -— have already said the scheme will go ahead if Edinburgh‘s bid is unsuccessful. But Wilson admits the ambition of turning it into an ‘interna- tional centre of excellence‘ might have to be scaled down if the award goes to Glasgow or Liverpool.
The architecture centre is the only building planned directly on the back of the l999 bid — there are to be no Festival of Britain-style monuments built for posterity -— but Wilson expects more
The new Scottish Office building will help breathe life into the docks area.
projects will get beyond the drawing board stage if Edinburgh is successful. Competitions planned in the run up to 1999 include an extension to the central library. a visitor centre at Craigmillar castle. a new Vivarium at the zoo and proposals for regenerating the seafront between Granton and Portobello. ‘What the bid process has allowed us to do is push some projects closer to reality.‘ says Wilson.
Edinburgh's bid plays unashamedly on its potential to become an international city of design by pushing the reputation of the existing festivals. ‘The city must realise it faces very stiffcompetition in the world and that competition is not with Glasgow but with the real European capitals.‘ George Kerevan. the inﬂuential chairman of the district council‘s economic development commit- tee. told The Scotsman recently.
There will be no special pleading that the city
The Sheraton Hotel
The Sheraton is a dismal addition to an historic city. The bland facade looks out forlomly over ‘Festlval Square’, whose amenity value scrapes a zero. A sun lounge has recently been added which begins to cheer things up, albeit marginally. liew neighbours to the hotel are under construction, but to my horror these look set to be ‘sons of Sheraton'.
I believe in contemporary architecture, but not when it looks like this - anaemic, unloved and mlsconceived. it is about time real design quality replaced profit margin architecture. However signs elsewhere in Edinburgh point to a sea change for the better - bring on the visionary clients, caring developers, brave planners and excellent architects - this city needs you. Architects: Grerar & Partners. (Elspeth Latlmer)
The Sheraton: bland facade.
The Fruitmarket Gallery
A city long ago frightened into aplng its Georgian and Victorian forefathers, may be about to realise contemporary architecture Is a good thing after all. A harbinger of this change ls the newly revamped and award-winning Fruitmarket Gallery.
A mediocre 1930s bulldlng has been innovatively transfomied. To the original elevation has been applied a collage of sliding layers, and a delicate roof now tips up to let in light and silver views of the city. The upper gallery is indeed the most successful - the ground floor feels too constricted for large caevesses, and needs the animation of the proposed cafe. But all in all, this building is a breath of fresh air. Architects: Richard Murphy Associates. (Elspeth Latimer)
The Frultrnerket: mediocre bulldlng transformed.
needs this award to rebuild its post-industrial wastelands — it has none to speak of. Edinburgh can only become 1999 City of Architecture by convinc- ing the selection panel that it will do the bestjob of putting British architecture on the map. E)
View from the other cit
At first glance Edinburgh is an architectural dream, a lasting monument to good taste, but scratch the surface and you will discover another side to the story. Behind the neoclassical facade of the new town and the medieval design of the old, lurks the abominable face of 1960s architecture.
Dr Hildebrand Frey, director of Strathclyde Unversity’s urban design study unit, stresses Edinburgh has not been immune to architectural disasters. ‘It is an extremely pretty city and if you don’t look in detail you are overwhelmed by it,’ he says.
The German academic who moved to Glasgow in the 1970s speaks passionately of Edinburgh’s beauty and its patterned historical development. ‘Edinburgh has the unique character of a medieval town in one place and parallel to it, a new town which was set completely aside from the first,’ he says. ‘I don’t think that exists anywhere else in Europe.’
' But breathtaking or not, Edinburgh’s skyline has its share of blots - known collectively as 19603 architecture. ‘Any city has this and to blame are the architects and designers,’ says Frey. ‘lt’s an era very difficult to understand. They treated everything old as rubbish which had to go. In Edinburgh the scale of development was lost in the 1950s and 60s by knocking buildings down and replacing them with buildings twice as high. There has been much more control since the mid-703, but for many years they’ve treated their city very badly.’
Edinburgh might not have ploughed a motorway through its heart like Glasgow, but according to Frey it has some major problems such as traffic congestion and the dislocation of the city from its waterfront. Sensitive development is the only way forward, he says - something which many other European cities have already realised. ‘Barcelona, Munich, Berlin - they have all worked miracles.’
ills hope is both Edinburgh and Glasgow can do the same. (Kathleen Morgan)
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The List l—l4 July [9941