Edinburgh to get new 'hobbit house' concert arena to replace Ross Bandstand
American designers have won the contest to create a new outdoor concert arena for Edinburgh - with a design compared to a 'hobbit house.'
West Princes Street Gardens will be dramatically transformed by the long-awaited replacement for the Ross Bandstand, which will see a series of new green spaces connected by an “undulating” promenade linked to the Royal Mile.
A new “Ross Pavilion” and indoor visitor centre, which will offer spectacular views of concerts in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, will both emerge from the new-look landscape.
Organisers of the five-month contest - which has been backed by the city council and the city’s heritage bodies - said the winning vision would create “one of the most exciting performance spaces in the world.”
The new arena, work on which is expected to get underway next year, is aimed at allowing events to be staged in the gardens all year round while opening up the area in front of the main concert stage as a space for relaxation.
Why Architecture, which has offices in both Los Angeles and New York, joined forces with practices in Edinburgh to pursue its bid, which also had the backing of actor Alan Cumming.
It was one of seven contenders for the £25 million project, who were drawn from 125 entries for the contest, which was launched led by a new charitable trust set up by hotel tycoon Norman Springford, who has offered to help bankroll the new arena.
He chaired a nine-strong panel of judges, who included city council chief executive Andrew Kerr, Sir Mark Jones, former director of the National Museum of Scotland and author Alexander McCall Smith.
Mr Springford, chair of the Ross Development Trust, said: “We are confident we have a winning concept that embodies an imaginative ensemble landscape approach, creating a wonderful stage for our iconic castle.
“In addition, the design concept offers a creative energy and a series of unique elements which will all combine to create a new and contemporary landscape.
“Why demonstrated an impressive collaboration which respects and enhances the historical context and backdrop of the castle and the city, whilst creating new heritage and increasing the green space within the gardens, all of which were key aspects for us all and respected the importance of the space within a World Heritage Site.”
Why’s recent projecets have included the newest museum in Los Angeles, the Marciano Art Foundation, and Yoko Ono’s Skylanding project for Jackson Park in Chicago,
Landscape design director Mark Thomann said its vision for the gardens had been aimed at tackling complaints over “a lack of accessibililty or connection.”
He said: “This is a special opportunity for a special place, not just for Edinburgh but the world.
“The new Ross Pavilion and gardens draw from the rich natural history, heritage and creative spirit of Scotland, embodying a model approach for integrating public architecture and urban space in a top global city.
“Our team looks forward to realising this vision with the Ross Development Trust and the people of Edinburgh.”