Gillespies: For the first time in its 200-year history, St Andrew Square gardens in Edinburgh have been opened to the public following a new landscape design by Gillespies. Situated in central Edinburgh in the heart of a UNESCO world heritage site, the design retains the integrity of the historic square but also balances this with new elements to accommodate contemporary usage patterns. The design provides a generous and elegant central open space with its focus being the Melville Monument. The layout recognises the importance of this column in reinstating the visual connection between some of Edinburgh’s main shopping streets. A reflective pool is framed by waterside planting which provides a changing display of colour and texture.
The project has successfully delivered a contemporary space into a historic context. A previously private and underused garden is now open to the public. The small Café Pavilion set in one corner of the garden reinforces the square’s status as a destination in its own right. It has demonstrated that even in the most sensitive of environments – a conservation area and world heritage site – a modern and fresh design can be achieved. The level of success of the scheme is underlined by the level of use of the gardens, which were immediately adopted by the public both as a place for relaxation and a through route. The gardens have integrated seamlessly into the city fabric, and are used by locals and visitors alike as though they have always been there.
Landscape architecture: Gillespies (London, UK)
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Commissioned by: City of Edinburgh Council; Scottish Enterprise; Edinburgh & Lothian; Essential Edinburgh
Awards received: President’s Award, Landscape Institute, Award for Best UK landscape design project; Award for Best Landscape Design under 1 hectare, Landscape Institute; Scottish Planning Award Commendation; and the Civic Trust Commendation.
Design team leader: Linda Curr, Partner, Gillespies.
Image Copyright: John Cooper, Gillespies