The winner of the Stirling Prize for the best building has been announced. Looking at the short list of candidates it made me think of the quality of new development that we see in Edinburgh. The Scottish Parliament was our last building to feature in the competition and this was back in 2005. I often hear people criticise recent developments in Edinburgh and at times I do agree – but our new design guidance sets a challenge for new development to achieve the highest quality of design possible and integrate well with the existing city:
Edinburgh is not a museum — it is a vibrant, living, breathing city and a city that needs to change if it is to meet the needs of the years ahead. We want to have confident and modern developments that sit comfortably alongside some of the oldest buildings in the city, as well as developments in other areas that create their own sense of place.
We know there are many competing factors that influence how a final scheme will look and the type of place that will be created but I want the guidance to be a tool to push developers to go further and think more creatively about their proposals. I want to see developments come forward that become the conservation areas and listed buildings of the future.
It is not just about architecture, creating places that people want to live in is a priority. Higher density developments which create mixed communities with high quality public spaces are something I would like to see more of. I am encouraged by the recent developments at Gracemount which the Planning Committee visited earlier this year. It has also been interesting to see recent proposals come forward that aim to re-interpret a colony style of dwelling. We have recently designated many of the traditional colony areas in the city as conservation areas and I have high hopes that the modern interpretations will prove to be a success.