The winner of a major architectural competition run by Dutch developers, MAB Groep and The EDI Group, to identify an architectural practice to work up detailed proposals for a radical facelift for the east end of Princes Street (between Waverly Bridge and the National Gallery of Scotland), Edinburgh has been announced on 10 December 2002. Allan Murray Architects was chosen by the panel of judges as the architectural practice which will go forward to work with a full development team to create detailed design proposals for the Princes Street Galleries.
The Edinburgh based architect was selected from a shortlist of four practicesÃ¢â¬" three Scottish and one Dutch Ã¢â¬" who submitted outline proposals for the scheme in response to the competition launched earlier this year. The competition was administered by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.
MurrayÃ¢â¬â¢s practice was selected as the panel considered the overall approach not only increased the quality of shopping, but greatly improved the public space at the heart of Edinburgh. The judges were impressed with both the architectÃ¢â¬â¢s response to the brief, and the wider suggestions made to improve the public realm, commending his Ã¢â¬Ëbroader vision to link the historical city with the New TownÃ¢â¬â¢ whilst creating an exciting Ã¢â¬ËdestinationÃ¢â¬â¢.
The approach brings together three dramatic elements: the creation of a Princes Street that will be a pleasure for pedestrians, the creation of a grand top-lit Gallery which would give views to the city, the gardens and the Scott Monument and which sensitively integrates shopping within the city centre and a new public square.
MurrayÃ¢â¬â¢s plans show a spacious entrance court leading down from the RSA piazza, where a new open public square is created. The square also provides access to the new major entrance to the National Galleries which is currently under construction as part of the Playfair Project and which opens into East Princes Street Gardens.
The other shortlisted architects were Erick van Egeraat Associated Architects, Gareth Hoskins Architects and Page and Park Architects.
The next phase is to work up the concept ideas into a detailed planning submission, which will be presented in the autumn of 2003.
The judging panel who oversaw the two-stage competition process was chaired by Barbara Kelly CBE, an expert in environmental issues and consumer affairs and recent chair of the ArchitectsÃ¢â¬â¢ Registration Board; David Mackay, a partner in MBM, an internationally acclaimed practice based in Barcelona that specialises in European architecture and urban design; Rab Bennetts of Bennetts Associates, Scottish Architect of the Year 2001; Ton Meijer, chairman of MAB Groep and Councillor Lezley Cameron, chairman of The EDI Group