Gardens arena up for global design award

Edinburgh's proposed outdoor concert arena in Princes Street Gardens is in the running for a global architecture prize before work has begun on the long-awaited project.
Edinburgh's proposed outdoor concert arena in Princes Street Gardens is in the running for a global architecture prize before work has begun on the long-awaited project.
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Edinburgh’s proposed outdoor concert arena in Princes Street Gardens is in the running for a global architecture prize before work has begun on the long-awaited project.

The proposed £25 million replacement for the run-down Ross Bandstand in Edinburgh has been hailed as one of the world’s leading cultural visions in an international contest.

It will be up against a dinosaur centre in South Africa, a Chinese art gallery, a Norwegian library and an Indian museum inspired by a mythological god at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam next week.

The “hobbit house” design for a brand new amphitheatre and visitor centre in West Princes Street Gardens was created by an international consortium led by American architectural practice wHY. It beat off competition from 125 different entries from 22 different countries in August last year.

However, the start of work on the project has had to be put back due to protracted wrangling over the access and maintenance of the new-look gardens once the project is completed.

The arena is now not due to be finished until 2023 – two years later than envisaged. The Ross Development Trust, which was set up to pursue the project, is still raising funding for the project.

Its new “Ross Pavilion and Garden Gateway” facilities, which could host up to 200 events a year, are in the running for the “Culture Future” honour at next week’s festival.

Among the other 15 contenders for the prize are a new fishmarket complex in Sydney, a conservatory for the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, a concert hall in Kaunus, Lithuania, and a museum devoted to the siege of Leningrad in Russia.

Managing director David Ellis said: “We’re thrilled that the vision for West Princes Street Gardens has been acknowledged in this way. This is a prestigious competition and to reach the final stages is an endorsement for our wonderful design team.

“Our intention when launching the design competition was to engage with the best architectural minds across the world, to create a vision that would be internationally recognisable. We’re therefore delighted to be considered amongst such fantastic global competition.

Gunnar Groves-Raines, director and co-founder of GRAS, said: “It’s a great honour to be shortlisted at the World Architecture Festival awards and incredibly rewarding to see the Ross Pavilion proposals celebrated on an international stage. 

“The result is testament to the ambition of the project and the Ross Development Trust’s ongoing commitment to excellence in design. As the project progresses from concept to delivery, these awards are an encouraging reminder of the positive and lasting impact that the new pavilion will have on the city.”