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Former surgical hospital to house Edinburgh uni development

The former Royal Infirmary Surgical Hospital, at the heart of the Quartermile development, has planning permission to become an educational facility

Posted by Julian Owen | December 04, 2017 | Bricks & mortar

A scheme to convert a former hospital into University buildings is to be known as the Edinburgh Futures Institute, encompassing 21,300sqm of floor space, of which 6,000sqm will be additional new space. It has been designed by Bennetts Associates, working with project managers, Faithful+Gould.

Edinburgh Futures Institute will bring together researchers from across the University with other partners to tackle major issues concerning the economy, education and societies across the world.

The old hospital comprised multiple buildings from the 19th to the late 20th centuries, including the original Royal Infirmary designed by David Bryce. The architect was influenced by the ‘pavilion’ model of ward design founded by nursing pioneer, Florence Nightingale. Each ward was to be three storeys tall with large windows, thought to better circulate fresh air and combat contagion and therefore mortality rates.

With the more recent medical facilities already cleared for construction, the historic building is to be restored, extended and upgraded to form a flexible space enabling collaboration among students, staff and partner organisations. In recognition of the historic building’s importance to the wider community, the multi-million pound development will include a public piazza, garden spaces and large subterranean multi-functional space for events and lectures.

"The main construction period is programmed to start in 2018 and be ready for occupation by the University in mid-2021."

The former hospital site as a whole, now known as Quartermile, covers an entire block of Edinburgh’s inner city, reaching from the Meadows in the south to Lauriston Place in the north, and from the Middle Meadow Walk in the east to Chalmers Street in the west. The project is the largest to date in a £1.5bn investment programme being carried out by the University over 10 years.

Rab Bennetts, director of Bennetts Associates said: “Having worked continuously for the University of Edinburgh for 14 years, we are acutely aware of the importance this project has to the institution and to the city. The Edinburgh Futures Institute demonstrates the University’s ambitions, not only in the world of higher education, but also in architectural patronage. We are privileged to see our ideas for new interventions so readily adopted.”

Vice-Principal Professor Dorothy Miell, Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said: “The world is experiencing major changes: climate volatility, political discontent, advances in artificial intelligence, economic upheavals. This presents big challenges. We need different ways of thinking about these issues and of devising new solutions.

“Edinburgh Futures Institute will make that difference. It will blend theoretical and practical knowledge. It will work with organisations dealing directly with these challenges and curate meaningful interactions between seemingly disparate disciplines. We want our students to embody this approach and our partners to share the vision and help us to develop it.”

The main construction period is programmed to start in 2018 and be ready for occupation by the University in mid-2021.

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