r a j u  n o o r | architecture

stage five | b o u t i q u e  e d i n b u r g h  h o t e l

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Located in the south-east of Scotland, Edinburgh lies on the east coast of the Central Belt, along the Firth of Forth, near the North Sea. Owing to its rugged setting and vast collection of Medieval and Georgian architecture, it is often considered one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. The city is made up of two distinctive places- Old Town and New Town. The Old Town to this date preserves is medieval plan that has developed over the centuries. The distinctive herring-bone street pattern the Old Town created remains a memorable image in minds of people. At its spine is the famous Royal Mile, where closes and alleys sprout off, stretching from the castle to Holyrod Palace. Both offer a different experience at street level but one thing is apparent, whether it be in Old town or New town there is always a visual link to the castle, even on occasions Calton Hill and Arthur’s seat, providing a constant reminder of place.

Opened in 1817, the New Calton Burial ground sits on the lower south eastern slope of Calton Hill between Regent Road and Calton Road. The area has historically been a green space. A small river or burn would have previously run along the foot of Calton Hill but over the centuries this land has been drained for the development of Canonage. The burial ground was either an orchard or a garden prior to its current use.

Over the years, the graveyard has fallen into a decrepit state through negligence. The site itself offers clues to its purpose. The main structure on the site is a three-story, round, coursed rubble watchtower, that sits on the western boundary. Originally, it was built as a deterrent to grave robbers and to house the burial ground care taker. Ideas of protection is emerges. The site over the years has been closed off the Calton Road. The only access into the site in the north western corner via Regent Road. The idea that this burial ground has been a protected site over the years is further developed as it remains enclosed within the boundary of a four meter high wall. The site is deprived of any visual or physical links to Edinburgh Old Town. For this reason, the atmosphere within is peaceful, ideal for those who want to escape from the busy streets. The proposed hotel is to enhance the qualities found on the site. The wall is a distinctive feature of the site as it provides the protection for the site. The proposed building is to from an ‘inhabited wall’ whereby the hotel will act as a barrier between the Old Town and the site but also reconnect the site to the city itself.

The underlying architectural concept for the hotel is the ideas that the hotel is an ‘inhabited wall’ which would continue to protect the burial ground behind the linear plot. Not only the architectural intentions be expressed through materiality and special arrangements but the structure, environment and construction are an integral part of the scheme to deepen the notions of the proposed hotel being a modern day fortress. The proposed hotel is to mimic the mass and solidity of the castles of old and convey a sense of being rooted in its place.  

Through the architecture, a sense of protection will be implied both externally and within the internal spaces. The secluded area of the New Calton Burial ground offers an opportunity to create a piece of architecture that enhances the site as well as maintaining the distinctive qualities of the site and place, that place being Edinburgh....