Gallery, Edinburgh College of Art
Although our proposal grew out of a need identified in relation to the College’s outstanding Cast Collection, the design extends beyond that remit to a future that develops other potential forms of artistic activity. It was shortlisted in a bid to benefit from a philanthropic investment aimed specifically at a capital-funded arts building in Edinburgh.
Our vision for the new building was to create a dynamic visual presence for the College on the street. The building acts as a new ‘front room’ and encourages wider access by the general public. The new gallery would enhance the status of the College as a creative institution of international standing, and make a positive contribute to the architectural setting of Lauriston Place.
The building comprises a new plinth (to overcome wheelchair access issues and provide an expansive sculpture terrace) combined with an elongated glazed pavilion adjacent to the Hunter Building. The pavilion provides daylight to a semi-submerged gallery below which can accommodate a changing programme of exhibitions. This new exhibition space has full environmental control for the display of fragile drawings, rare books, paintings and other artefacts for major international exhibitions, The varied exhibition programme will showcase students’ work and the College’s own collection which includes important works by Bellany, Houston, McTaggart, Philipson and Peploe. This collection is presently housed off-site inhibiting regular display and access by staff, students and the public.
The College’s main building (completed in 1911) stands on the north side of the garden quadrangle screened from the street by the Fire Service HQ and the College’s own Hunter Building. The Hunter Building is an imposing red sandstone structure (designed by Sir Anthony Wheeler) which echoes the nearby city wall, however, the empty space in front of the building has become an unattractive residual area used as a staff car park.
The Hunter Building dates from 1974 and is not listed. Our proposal aims to construct a flexible, semi-submerged gallery and a new public face for the College. It would effectively break down the intimidating nature of the Hunter Building and create a formal landscaped court for public use.
Shortlisted for £3million arts funding prize for Edinburgh
‘We are absolutely delighted to be short-listed. Since consolidating 11 buildings on three campuses across the city onto one unified campus at Lauriston Place, we’ve been keen to improve the frontage of the Hunter Building, and create a high quality, secure gallery space, which would be fully accessible to the public.'
Michael Wood, College Secretary for Edinburgh College of Art