Leith tour with German students

Hello again everyone,

On Thursday (4/8/16), Katie and I had the pleasure of co-ordinating and hosting a tour of Leith Waterfront at the request of a group of students from Rurh University in Bochum, Germany. They are going to be doing a project comparing significant, up-and-coming waterfront locations in the UK against European examples, studying the different approaches to waterfront development, as well as the challenges of the different locations and lessons to be learned from each city.

Fellow students from Ruhr University
Fellow students from Ruhr University

When they contacted us with the request, Katie and I agreed we would rise to the challenge and take on this great opportunity. We spent time doing our ‘homework’ on the area; we went on site, read development plans, articles, and conversed with folk to get a feel for the area from a local’s perspective. We learnt a lot, and it was interesting to review plans for the waterfront and the challenges it has faced over the past decade.

Nervous is an understatement as to how we were feeling as we walked to meet the students, however, they were great – so friendly and eager to learn. The tour went really well; we took them round Western Harbour, across to Ocean Terminal and finished on the top level of the car park, you could say we finished on a ‘high note’. The group spoke very positively about Edinburgh and presented Katie and I with little gifts all the way from Bochum. We wish them all the best for their project, future studies and who knows we may meet again in the future as the upcoming generation of planners in our countries.

Tokens of appreciation from Bochum, Germany
Tokens of appreciation from Bochum, Germany

Such a joy, thank-you to the group, it was our pleasure.

Katie and Luke.

West End – Business Improvement District

Hello Everyone,

Another week brings about another interesting story unfolding in Edinburgh that we’d like to share with you.  Katie and I have been out and about investigating what’s going on in the city.  We met with Erica Flett, the Project Manager of the Edinburgh West End ‘Business Improvement District’ (BID).  Erica, along with the board of directors and the area’s nearly 200 business owners, have brought the BID to life, highlighting the West End’s many attractions.

BIDs are where local businesses work together to help improve the area.  The BID is decided by businesses through a ballot process.  If successful, the businesses pay a levy which is then spent on local improvements. There are four BIDs in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh West End sign
Edinburgh West End sign

Erica’s challenge is to create awareness and an identity for the West End as an area that offers something for everyone and highlighting the area’s rich cultural history.  She hopes to bring more opportunity for businesses and local residents in the area with the use of cultural events, historical trails and social media.  Please check out their website to get updated as to what’s going on.

A West End building
Randolph Place in the West End

Upcoming Events:

West End is excited to invite local people and visitors to wander the beautiful cobbled streets with the Sketcher. The Edinburgh Sketcher will teach you how to capture a likeness of our historic Georgian crescents and demonstrate how easy it is to add watercolour to your sketch of the West End.

The West End, in partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage has produced a historical trail map to encourage you to explore the historic streets of the West End, a key part of the city’s World Heritage Site. The trail reveals links to famous ‘West Enders’ of the past such as Dr Joseph Bell, who provided the inspiration for Conan Doyle’s fictional character Sherlock Holmes. Visit any West End shop, boutique or pub and pick up a copy of the trail map!

Mark your calendars for two exciting events taking place at St Mary’s, one of Edinburgh’s most beautiful historic buildings in the heart of the West End. From 1 August to 3 September will be an exhibition of Women in the West End and on 11 August at 8:30pm will be a Night at the Opera, a Celebration of Dr Joseph Bell.

Walking through the West End yesterday was a real treat and with the help of the BID’s Shopfront Improvement Grant scheme, we’re already seeing the historical character of the area restored.  It’s evident that Erica’s vision for the area will see the West End become an ever greater thriving business and leisure destination with independent boutiques blossoming and the cafe culture taking off. As Erica said,

“With concentrated efforts of the BID and creative engagement from the West End businesses, The West End will easily become the go to destination for shoppers, dinners and home buyers. The BID is hard at work supporting local traders, communicating with residents and interacting with the local council. It is with great enthusiasm that the West End look forward to the next few years as a BID!” 

Visit the West End’s FaceBook page for more information.

Luke and Katie

New Town Conservation Area – your views on new buildings

Hello everyone, Katie and I have been out exploring the New Town, taking photographs of some new developments within the conservation area to help raise awareness of the consultation for the New Town Character Appraisal.  This overlaps with the consultation on the World Heritage Site Management Plan and is another way to get feedback on new buildings.

New Town Door
New Town door

A character appraisal is a document which helps to manage change in conservation areas. It sets out what makes an area special and worthy of conservation.  This provides the context for planning decisions on proposals affect the character and appearance of the conservation area.  The character appraisal for the New Town Conservation Area is currently under review and this is an opportunity for people to have their say about some new buildings in the area.

The survey results will help with our understanding of how well the current character appraisal reflects the character and appearance of area as it is today.  The results will also help us see how effective (or not) the character appraisal has been in managing change over the years.

Princes Street Primark
Princes Street: Primark

It would be great if you would take 5 -10 minutes to give us your views using our online survey.

Luke and Katie

Edinburgh World Heritage Site consultation – update

Hello again,

We’re bringing a quick update on the Old and New Towns World Heritage Site consultation.  There’s only two more weeks to go until the end of the consultation…

We’ve had over 400 responses since the consultation began at the start of July. It’s interesting to see that even though the shape looks different a number of key themes continue to come through, such as:

  • Control and Guidance
  • Contribution of new developments to city centre
  • Housing
  • Visitor management
  • Care and maintenance of buildings and streets
  • Influence and sense of control
Place Wheel interim results 18 July 2016
Place Wheel interim results 18 July 2016

This feedback is key as it will play an important role in shaping the new management plan.

Katie and I took to the streets last week, asking members of the public for some feedback on Edinburgh city centre. Have a listen…

If you’ve not already filled in the online survey it might inspire you to do so!

You can also download a copy of the survey and send comments to worldheritage@edinburgh.gov.uk

Katie and Luke

Archi-Fringe – Edinburgh, Too

Hello Everyone,

As you’re probably aware 2016 is the year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, it’s the only year-long festival celebrating the international built environment, design and innovation, part of which the Cities Expo we’ve been covering on the Mound.  On Friday we were privileged to meet with Architects Robb Mcrae and Tamsin Cunningham at their exhibitions ‘Edinburgh Too’ and ‘Peripheries and Outlines’.

Archifringe18 months ago, Robb Mcrae, architect, photographer and lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art, had an idea to set up an Architecture Fringe.  He floated the idea on social media, seven tweets later, a series of mini events and a period of six months creating awareness and gathering feedback he took on challenge of Co-producer of the ArchiFringe.

It’s an independent, self funded festival, with 60 contributors and 29 events all over Scotland – a fantastic festival showcasing ideas and innovative solutions, on a local level.

Robb’s exhibition ‘Edinburgh Too’ was on at Gayfield Creative Spaces gallery for a few days and is now moving onto Glasgow from 15 – 17 July at new Glasgow Society.  The exhibition displays photographic pieces, highlighting the residential built environment outside of the Edinburgh World Heritage site.

The images showcased the diverse aesthetics in the wider city context, challenging perceptions of the reality of living in a historic city.  As Robb said, “In Scotland there is prevalence for connection to other people, to community through semi-detached and apartment living also, their formation as free-flowing streets and not cul-de sacs adds to the public realm of the city and security, resulting in attractive neighbourhoods.”

His next project will be looking at Castlerock, the foundation before the existence of the city.  He hopes to compile his work in a book so if you missed the exhibition keep your eye out for it.

Tamsin Cunningham, Architect and Artist, showcased her exhibition ‘Peripheries and Outlines’.  Speaking with Tamsin was inspirational, her work offered the viewer a clear message of repetition, of form and ultimately connection.  Art is Tamsin’s therapeutic past time.  It reflects daily insight into the physical and sociological ideals within the city, gained through her profession as an Architect.  Tamsin noted that, “Common threads through and Robb and my own exhibitions are finding ways to explore discourse through architecture using different mediums and realising the points of connectivity between culture and community.”

Peripheries and Outlines
Peripheries and Outlines

We asked what’s next for Tamsin?

A project in collaboration with St. Andrews University looking at the issue of community engagement in Planning, researching and developing possible solutions for reinventing public consultation, how to make it more engaging, efficient and effective. This is interesting for us, with the Old and New Towns Management Plan consultation taking place at the moment.  She’s also working with Edinburgh World Heritage Trust on the 12 closes project, exploring the emotional connection between people and their place.

Meeting Robb and Tamsin was great!

We hope you find their stories as interesting as we did.  You can find out more about upcoming events at the Architecture fringe website and read more about Robb and his work.

Thanks for reading, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter.

Katie and Luke