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"Luxury hotel planned for Old Royal High School" (or music school?)

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  1. chdot
    Admin

    "

    A World-class hotel capable of attracting a new breed of super-rich tourists to Edinburgh would be built on Calton Hill under plans unveiled today.

    "

    http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/luxury-hotel-planned-for-old-royal-high-school-1-3636760

    Posted 2 years ago #
  2. crowriver
    Member

    Hmm. Something fishy about all of this.

    "The A-listed building will remain publicly-owned with the city council having handed the developers a 125-year conditional lease following a competition in 2010. "

    Are they paying rent then? Or not?

    I can foresee some issues with the "luxury hotel". Not least of which is the bus turning circle right outside the front gate! Regular Wurst buses lowering the tone somewhat... Secondly the rather less than salubrious Jacob's Ladder' steps directly opposite.

    Can't believe the EEN prints this PR puffery on behalf of speculative developers. No, actually I can believe it...

    Posted 2 years ago #
  3. kaputnik
    Moderator

    Are they paying rent then? Or not?

    I'm sure they will be, on a long-term commercial leasehold, but what they are actually paying will probably be kept a secret from Joe or Joanne Public on grounds of "commercial confidentiality".

    Perhaps this gin palace will get the cooncil to do something about the bus-induced cratering in the road surface.

    I wonder if that white-painted central barrier can be gotten rid of too... Results in too many close passes when heading uphill.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  4. chdot
    Admin

  5. chdot
    Admin

    "

    Unesco adviser slams Royal High hotel plan

    "

    http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/unesco-adviser-slams-royal-high-hotel-plan-1-3699643

    Posted 2 years ago #
  6. chdot
    Admin

  7. stiltskin
    Member

    It's been empty since 1968? A hotel may not be ideal but it is better than nothing

    Posted 2 years ago #
  8. wingpig
    Member

    Wonder what was done to it in the late nineties around devolution - does it have modern/safe enough heating-pipes/electricity-wires to be used as overflow meeting spaces/offices for the government if they run out of Art Deco meeting spaces/offices across the road, or is it not able to be safely used for anything without some sort of invasive pipe/cablework?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  9. chdot
    Admin

  10. kaputnik
    Moderator

    Wonder what was done to it in the late nineties around devolution

    Nothing, I think. The work was done in late 1970s for that devolution referendum, which would have resulted in a much smaller Scottish "assembly". There's still a brass and black "New Parliament House" sign on the lodge gate opposite St. Andrew House. The Holyrood Parliament would never have fitted in the Royal High, hence they used the Church of Scotland Assembly until Holyrood was ready.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  11. crowriver
    Member

    "The Holyrood Parliament would never have fitted in the Royal High, hence they used the Church of Scotland Assembly until Holyrood was ready."

    Actually, the whole process was *much* more political.

    Despite the City of Edinburgh maintaining the building for 20 years in case a Scottish parliament came into being, the decision was made not only to commission a new building opposite Holyrood Palace, but also in the meantime to sit in the Church of Scotland Assembly, which had to be refurbished at not inconsiderable expense.

    Why do that when a purpose built chamber was available? Well you may recall that for much of the 1990s there was a wee caravan and a brazier sitting outside New Parlianet House/The Royal High School, the so-called vigil for a Scottish Parliament. The late Donald Dewar, then Scottish Secretary, declared that the building on Calton Hill had become "a nationalist shibboleth" and resolved to build a new assembly elsewhere.

    If you consider the topology of the city, and the nature of the three sites, it becomes even more clear how political symbolism was paramount. First the Holyrood site: directly opposite the royal palace, literally linking the new legislature with the (UK) monarchy. Second, the Church of Scotland Assembly building: seat of the upper governing body of Scotland's established church, and the new MSPs had to pass by the steely glare of a statue of John Knox on their way to and from parliament! Finally the old Royal High building was in an elevated position, literally looking out over the capital, and, crucially, physically above the adjacent seat of the Scottish Office as then was. Clearly that was an unacceptable symbolic elevation to the administratively minded apparatchiks of the Labour party. It seems the then resident of Governor's House could not quite bring himself to be beneath what he saw as his own creation...

    Ultimately also the choice of a Catalan architect to design the new parliament was supposed to send out signals of political parallels between the two nations/regions. At that time Catalans were not seeking independence but simply further autonomy. Of course, things have changed since then, but at the time the message was certainly "don't rock the (upturned) boat(s)".

    Posted 2 years ago #
  12. Min
    Member

    “Whilst an exclusive hotel could bring economic benefits to Edinburgh, given an understanding of the history of the high school, this is not an appropriate use. This will not be a public building.”

    Well it's not a public building now either since the public can't get in to it.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  13. PS
    Member

    And a luxury hotel is more public than a lot of Council-owned buildings. Joe Punter can wander in a blow £10 on a cocktail if he wants to.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  14. crowriver
    Member

    I was in the building last summer, there was a film showing in the debating chamber as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival.

    Seemed to be plenty of room for 129 MSPs. Disabled access a challenge, but would have cost less to sort out than the complete renovation of the Church of Scotland Assembly chamber...

    Posted 2 years ago #
  15. chdot
    Admin

    "
    And then there is Edinburgh, and the current almighty row over the future of the old Royal High School on Calton Hill, probably the city’s most prominent building apart from the castle.

    "

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/joyce-mcmillan-start-local-to-rebuild-democracy-1-3703494

    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. kaputnik
    Moderator

    http://news.stv.tv/east-central/312695-images-released-of-hotel-proposed-for-edinburghs-royal-high-school/

    New images released of hotel proposed for old Royal High School

    OPERATION SLIP-ANOTHER-ONE-PAST-THE-PLANNING-COMMITTEE-ONCE

    First they show you the pictures of the nicely restored interior.

    Then they tell you they're going to have to pull down internal walls and dig up the floors.

    Then they tell you they'll have to cut a few more windows in it.

    Then they tell you that it's the only way to save a crumbling, historic building in danger of imminent collapse.

    And then they slip out the little image with two enormous modernist glass and sandstone-clad boxes flanking and completely dominating the existing structure and completely changing the view of Calton Hill from anywhere to the South. Devil's in these little, drip-fed details, huh?

    "The consultation is taking place inside the old Royal High School from 10am to 7pm on Thursday and Friday."

    Must swing by on my way home and tell them what I think of their plans, in person.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. acsimpson
    Member

    Watch this space for the addition of a metallic half peeled orange.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  18. PS
    Member

    Big, isn't it?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  19. kaputnik
    Moderator

    So really, the existing building is mainly being used as a fancy reception building and cocktail parlour?

    Given luxury hotel plans for St. James Centre ("It's not James's, It's Mine") and Picardy Place trainglabout, it's easy to see there's a dearth of luxury hotel plans for this part of Edinburgh and we should just wave it on through.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  20. crowriver
    Member

    These proposals have to be completely unacceptable. Look at the sheer scale of the new buildings!

    Alas I can't make the consultation as I'm away at work both days. Will certainly be objecting however!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  21. kaputnik
    Moderator

    Interesting comment on the Skyscrapercity blog that it's the very featureless, modernist style of the new parts - in an attempt to make them anonymous - that actually serves to make them so incongruous, given the neoclassical nature of nearly everything else on the hill. St. Andrew's House proves you can mix the modern and the classical with the right effort and sympathetic approach, but it's totally absent here.

    Oh yes and then there's the whole two-stories higher than what's already there thing too.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  22. Morningsider
    Member

    Spooky - whenever I see a majestic neo-classical building sitting in an elevated position in a World Heritage Site the first thing that comes into my head is:

    "That would look so much better with a massive toast rack at either end".

    Glad to find out it's not just me.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  23. Stickman
    Member

    I'm always amazed at the arrogance and egotism of architects involved in these projects.

    We wouldn't tolerate an artist walking into the National Gallery and "improving" works by old masters, so why do we put up with it on buildings? (Personally I think the Royal High is a nice enough building but it's history and location lift it higher than it would warrant in isolation)

    Posted 2 years ago #
  24. mogwai1375
    Member

    I think I'd prefer the orange- at least it's interesting!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  25. PS
    Member

    I went along yesterday to have a look, more to snoop around the building than anything else (it's in shocking nick in a couple of areas - leaky roof, ceiling down, damp). And when you tap your way around the debating hall, it does feel a bit shoddy in places.

    There were a few chaps from one of the developers/designers involved who were happy to discuss the plans and listen to people's concerns. They seemed to be genuinely interested in what people thought and said they wanted to take views on board about the proposed design (which they say is continually evolving). It was good to hear that they want to make the space on Regent Road into more of a plaza/cars-as-guests space, which would be a improvement.

    The scale and design of the two pavilions were my principal comments. I'd thought they must have been referencing something like the stoa in Athens, which does seem to be the case, but the stoa's down in the valley, rather than alongside the Acropolis... I remain to be convinced that the bookending of the RHS with these two masses is a great idea. But, the wander around the site did remind me that the RHS doesn't exactly sit in splendid isolation at the moment and if they can be designed to not draw the eye too much (perhaps more greenery on them?), well...

    Opinions expressed while I was there ranged from:
    "There's nothing for the community/cultural life of the city"
    to
    "This is great - it will attract a new type of visitor, help open up Calton Hill and Regent Road, and allow public access to the RHS. Just what the city needs."

    I'd recommend heading along today if you can. Interesting building, but it does feel very institutional. Best bit of all was wandering out onto the plinth and gate piers at the front for the view across the valley to Arthur's Seat - that is a terrific space, with the solidity of the building, shelter from the elements and the open view. Would be fantastic if public access to that could be restored.

    I came away pretty impressed by what they're proposing. I can see it would open up a currently underused and undervisited area (Holyrood to Calton Hill). I'd certainly take that over the current state of affairs.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  26. chdot
    Admin

    http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/scotsman-hotel-warn-staff-they-may-not-be-paid-1-3710979

    No doubt not related to 'demand' for beds in Ed.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  27. chdot
    Admin

    "I'd certainly take that over the current state of affairs."

    I think there has to be some sort of pragmatism over things like this.

    The problem is 'Edinburgh' doesn't have a particularly good track record.

    Edinburgh council(s) have neglected/disrespected stuff 'owned' by them ('managed on our behalf?).

    'Conservation interests' have stopped some of the worst plans, but can sometimes be over-sensitive.

    'Planners' have encouraged/allowed stuff that probably shouldn't have been allowed - whether that's because of officials, councillors, 'the law' or fear of (the cost of) appeals isn't always clear.

    Some developers inspire less confidence than others...

    Posted 2 years ago #
  28. kaputnik
    Moderator

    Bumped into PS who was having his second mosey around the building this evening (and then insisted on having a third).

    I haven't yet filled in the form (got until the end of the month), but my main impressions were;

    1 - the building stinks of damp. The smell really hits you when you first go in. There's paint and paper peeling off the walls, plaster off the roof, bad patch repairs and piles of pigeonpoo outside, the acid content of which must be munching through the sandstone of the building. The council hasn't been a great custodian of the place.

    2 - there's been some really naff "improvements" in the 1970s, blocked up fireplaces, remodelling of the debating chamber, stud and plasterboard walls, industrial carpets, fluorescent lighting, over-varnished pine panelling and lots more. Most of the original interior fittings and details were removed at this time, and there isn't a feeling of splendor inside consistent with the exterior. It really does feel like a 1970s local government debating chamber inside.

    3 - there's not much in the way of natural light inside, a lot of small, badly located windows, most of which point north and away from the obvious source of light. It's pretty dark and dingy and generally feels like an art gallery or museum with the lack of light.

    4 - there's a lot of good accessibility planned to integrate the building with the rest of the hill, e.g. access from Regent Road (which was never part of the design when it was a school), access through the site to the hill, removal of the central crash barrier and car parking on the road, etc.

    5 - the planned bedroom wings, either side of the current school, are one of 3 original options, and probably the best of a bad bunch. But... They are just too high, the mix of glass and sandstone is all wrong (too much of the former, too much of the latter to fit with what else is on the hill). The vertical columns of stone are far too narrow to really compliment the Greek pillars of the school and the other monuments and the obervatory on the hill. From many angles the wings aren't too big, but when viewed from outside St. Andrew's House, there's a dominant plain sandstone gable end that both blocks the skyline of Arthur's Seat and just looks totally out of place. They really need to work on the detail and scale of these wings if they want to make them fit. The blocks are really not inspiring at all, and look pretty much like one of those fancy student residences or Primarks that are popping up everywhere, the same old boring plate glass and sandstone cladding and all right angles. It really doesn't look like a high-end hotel from the outside.

    6 - the only way the developers think they can make the hotel pay for the work required is to have about 180 bedrooms at a price point significantly higher than the Edinburgh standard...

    7 - yes you will be able to buy a very expensive meal or drink there as a member of the public, but it's no more a public space than the Balmoral or Caledonian Hotels are. The nearest many people will get is looking enviously in the windows.

    8 - I got the feeling from the presentation boards that they were mainly trying to sell the why it needs to be developed into a hotel, as a principle, rather than the detail of how they intend to develop it.

    9 - The developers seem quite keen to use the heritage as a school as part of the theme for the hotel, however are conveniently overlooking it's important symbolic nature in the last 40 years of Scottish politics.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  29. chdot
    Admin

    "

    Saturday 28 February 2015

    DEVELOPERS behind a luxury hotel scheme earmarked for one of the Capital’s most celebrated buildings fear investors and operators will turn their back on the project if it becomes embroiled in a lengthy heritage battle.

    "

    http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/royal-high-school-hotel-plan-will-save-building-1-3704821

    Posted 2 years ago #
  30. PS
    Member

    Frankly, Cooncil maintenance is shabby as. I'll post some photos once I remember how to do it...

    Posted 2 years ago #

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