Winning team is led by US practice wHY

Nighttime View (c) wHY

A team led by US practice wHY has won the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition in Edinburgh.

The competition jury met on 11 July to interview the seven teams shortlisted for this initiative, and unanimously selected wHY as the winner. Its team included Edinburgh-based design studio GRAS, Arup, Groves-Raines Architects, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth.

The competition winners proposed 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.

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’.

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.’ They liked the concept of the activated community space with a democratic spirit, potentially creating a new and welcoming focus for the City’s festivals while appreciating that the team’s design balanced this with a strong approach to the smaller, intimate spaces within the wider Gardens.

Mark Thomann, wHY’s landscape design director, said: ‘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.’

The jury also gave a special commendation to the team led by William Matthews Associates and Sou Fujimoto Architects for ‘a memorable and delicate design that opened up unexpected views, particularly those to the castle’.

Construction of the project should start next year.

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