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Great Court Visions For Historic Edinburgh

One of the grandest Victorian buildings in Edinburgh is Donaldson's College, a grand gothic revival mansion built in 1851 that was aimed at educating and supporting deaf children.

By the turn of the century the building was proving more suitable for Downton Abbey than as a modern school for the deaf and was vacated in favour of a new campus in Linlithgow in January 2008.

With the building now having been sold to CALA Homes, the plans are to redevelop it. The first of these saw a 70 apartments planned by Richard Murphy Architects for the historic building, with a further 70 located in a new-build sweeping crescent to the immediate north. Situated at the back of the building, these are placed here to reduce the impact on the 27 acres of landscaped grounds, and that of the nearby World Heritage Site. These plans have been approved, and since then Yeoman McAllister Architects has replaced Richard Murphy Architects.

Dexter Moren Associates however are now working up proposals to turn the project into a new luxury hotel. The new crescent buildings remain in their masterplan but these will now be residential suites whilst a potential conference facility and spa have been mooted for the east and west of the site.

In the courtyard of the listed building the architect has designed a rotunda complete with a perforated screen that will light up the area at night with a diffuse glow. It will serve as a reception and bar, whilst a covered roof is planned to span the courtyard. This is a deliberate homage to the successful architecture of the Great Court that Foster + Partners employed at the British Museum.

Although yet to have a planning application filed, the project is now expected to have 370 hotel suites, 150 luxury apartments, plus up to 3,000 square metres of convention space, an 1,100 square metre spa and gym, and a new rooftop bar and restaurant with the rather predictable emphasis on the hundreds of whisky brands Scotland has to offer.
Donaldson's College, Edinburgh
Donaldson's College, Edinburgh