From hospital to home...

Saturday 09 Jan 2010

Foster + Partners transform Edinburgh landmark

The Quartermile development is one of the largest and most comprehensiveregeneration schemes in Scotland. Formerly the home of the historicEdinburgh Royal Infirmary, the 8-hectare site is located within aconservation area on Edinburgh’s Victorian fringes and includes nine listedbuildings. It falls within the central area of Edinburgh designated a WorldHeritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.

The starting point for the Quartermile scheme was to open the site up witha network of pedestrian routes and landscaped public spaces that draw thepark directly into its heart, creating a strong sense of place and reinforcingpedestrian connections to the centre.Phase One (completed in May 2008), in the south-east corner of theQuartermile masterplan, comprises three new residential buildings linkedby an underground car park: Q4, Q12 and Q14. Here, new construction iscombined with the selective refurbishment of historic buildings, with the newresidential schemes woven carefully into the grain of the old. Massing andfacades have been carefully developed to respect and follow the scale, toneand material qualities of the neighbouring historic structures.

Full height windows are incorporated to maximise daylight and provide dramatic viewsof Edinburgh, while the solid facades respond to functional requirements,providing both protection from fire spread and privacy between adjacentbuildings. Tri-tone anodised aluminium rainscreen facades reference thefinely feathered texture of the neighbouring sandstone structures.Q4 is located on the eastern edge of the site addressing Middle MeadowWalk. It comprises six storeys of residential accommodation above onestorey of retail at ground level. Infill towers Q12 and Q14 at the southeast edge of the site between the Medical Buildings face the Meadows.These contain twelve and eleven storeys of residential accommodationrespectively, including garden apartments at ground level and roof toppenthouses with private terraces.

The apartments’ layouts are elegant and functional and allow for differentconfigurations and flexible occupation, enhancing the appeal of their uniquelocation. The interiors were conceived as calm, uncluttered and simplespaces with a sense of refinement created by high quality materials andwell designed fittings. Rather than bespoke apartments, a high standardwas achieved economically by standardising a select palette of durable, highquality materials and products. Emphasis was placed on the spatial flowbetween interior and exterior, with full-width picture windows and generousopen plan layouts.

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