Esh Border Construction welcomes Women in Property to exclusive preview of historic Calton Hill Observatory site
Scottish property scene professionals have been given a sneak peek of the progress being made by contractors on the historic City Observatory site on Calton Hill.
Members of the Association of Women in Property (WiP), including solicitors, architects and planning and environmental consultants, were given an exclusive tour by Esh Border Construction, which has been tasked with transforming the site, to coincide with World Heritage Day.
They witnessed first-hand the progress being made by the Livingston-based firm on the £3 million second phase of redevelopment work which started last year and later enjoyed a presentation at the Apex Hotel where they learnt more about the project.
Esh Border Construction says it’s working hard to open up the 19th century ‘birthplace of astronomy and timekeeping in Edinburgh’ for public use, while significantly enhancing the space with a new restaurant and gallery.
The project – set to realise a world-class hub for contemporary visual arts and important new work by local and international practitioners – is being delivered on behalf of a partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council and visual arts organisation Collective.
The new restaurant will project over the north-east corner of the site, enjoying stunning panoramic views thanks to a substantial area of westward-facing glazing. It will also be illuminated at night, creating a landmark attraction that will be visible from all around the capital.
The contemporary gallery will, meanwhile, provide a new space for artists, audiences and producers, with astronomical instruments and telescopes on display in the City Observatory, while the grounds of the site will also be carefully restored.
At the heart of the historically sympathetic conservation project, the revitalised observatory complex – featuring a classical Greek-style design that was masterminded by William Henry Playfair in 1818 – is to become fully accessible to the public for the first time, breathing new life into what had become an underutilised site.
Esh Border Construction says that it is excited by the wide cultural possibilities of its restoration and redevelopment work across the observatory site, and was proud to welcome WiP last week.
Hosting the WiP event was Esh Border Construction’s Assistant Estimator, Ashleigh Day, who said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity of showing the group around the site, giving them a preview of the exciting development to come.
“The women enjoyed their sneak peak of this landmark project, one that we are certain will inject new life into a hugely important site in the centre of Edinburgh while fully showcasing its stunning views.
“WiP was able to see how the project will soon house one of the finest visual arts spaces in the country as part of a wide-ranging attraction that will be open to all, encouraging creative interaction.
“The group heard about the project’s massive emphasis on economic and regeneration objectives, going hand-in-hand with Esh Border’s ever-present focus on adding value in the communities where we operate.
“We very much look forward to welcoming them back to the much-anticipated opening event.”
Gemma Smith of WiP said: “We always look for a diverse mix of projects to visit to keep up-to-date with the changing property landscape in Scotland.
“We don’t see too many like this, and we felt like we’d had a full blown history lesson! It was so great to see that such a landmark site in the capital is being returned to its former glory but with even more to offer the public. It was a hugely informative and interesting afternoon.”
Lori Anderson, Head of Development and Enterprise at Collective, said: “We were delighted to be able to share our vision and plans for transforming the site with WiP and to see them become as excited as we are about the project. Our vision for creating a contemporary visual art space at a landmark building on Edinburgh’s skyline is fast becoming a reality.”
Among the delegates visiting the site from the WiP group was Tanya MacLeod, Partner at Brodies, which takes part annually in Esh’s Building My Skills initiative.
She said: “This is such an unusual and exciting project – it’s wonderful to see such an historic and iconic site being so painstakingly restored.
“It’s incredibly sad that these Playfair buildings have been on the Buildings at Risk Register for so long, so not only is this project long overdue, it’s also vital to celebrating the architectural brilliance of Edinburgh’s past.”