Ross Pavilion International Design Competition shortlist announced

  • 125 teams (made up of 400 individual firms) entered the competition with over half the submissions coming from overseas
  • Seven finalist teams will now create concept designs for a new landmark Pavilion, a visitor centre, and subtle updates to the listed West Princes Street Gardens in the heart of Edinburgh
  • Finalists include celebrated and emerging talent and feature international collaborations
  • Writer Alexander McCall Smith CBE FRSE and Architect Ada Yvars Bravo to join jury

The Ross Development Trust in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council and Malcolm Reading Consultants announced today [28 March, 2017] the seven finalist teams who will proceed to the second stage of the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition.

The competition is searching for an outstanding team of architects, landscape designers, engineers and other specialists for the new circa £25m Ross Pavilion and Gardens project in the heart of Edinburgh.

Each of the finalist teams is led by an architect, and these are listed below. For full details of the shortlisted teams, please see the Notes to Editors.

  • Adjaye Associates (UK)
  • BIG Bjarke Ingels Group (Denmark)
  • Flanagan Lawrence (UK)
  • Page \ Park Architects (UK)
  • Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter (Norway)
  • wHY (USA)
  • William Matthews Associates (UK) and Sou Fujimoto Architects (Japan)

The decision of the selection panel – which included representatives of the jury, the Ross Development Trust and competition organisers, Malcolm Reading Consultants – was unanimous.

The Chairman of the Ross Development Trust and Competition Jury Chair, Norman Springford, said:

“We were absolutely delighted by the response of designers from around the world to the competition’s first stage. The quality of the 125 teams on the longlist sent a strong signal that the international design community regards this as an inspirational project for Edinburgh that has huge potential to reinvigorate this prestigious site.

“Selecting the shortlist with our partners from City of Edinburgh Council was an intense and demanding process. We’re thrilled that our final shortlist achieved a balance of both international and UK talent, emerging and established studios. Now the teams will have 11 weeks to do their concept designs – and we’re looking forward to seeing these and sharing them with the public.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture Convener and Festivals Champion for the City of Edinburgh Council, said:

“The response to the competition’s first stage affirms the worldwide interest in Edinburgh and its association with the arts. Scotland’s capital is renowned as the World’s Festival City and the home of culture - and designers clearly want to be part of its future.

“The brief at stage two asks for a serious piece of architecture but one that’s also celebratory – it will be fascinating to see what concepts the teams produce.”

Malcolm Reading, Competition Director, said:

“This is an exceptional project – the interest from the website audience and the number of enquiries we received was far out of the ordinary. We appreciated the care and hard work that had gone into the submissions – to those who are disappointed not to make the shortlist, take heart: overall, the standard was very strong.”

An open day for the finalists will be held in April and the teams will have until 9 June 2017 to produce their concept designs for a new landmark Pavilion, a visitor centre with café, and subtle updates and improvements to the listed Gardens, which are of outstanding cultural significance and operated and managed by the City of Edinburgh Council as Common Good Land. The Pavilion will host the kind of imaginative arts programming which Edinburgh excels in, from large to small scale events.

A public and digital exhibition will be held in mid-June and will allow for local, national and visitor feedback. The jury will subsequently meet to interview the teams and the winner announcement is expected in early August 2017.

At the competition’s first stage, 125 applications were received from 22 different countries, including Australia, Japan, India and the United States, with UK-based practices producing 42 per cent of responses.

Joining the competition jury will be Ada Yvars Bravo, Director, MYAA Architects; Sir Mark Jones FSA FRSE, former Director of the National Museums of Scotland and the Victoria and Albert Museum; Riccardo Marini, Director, Gehl Architects; Alexander McCall Smith, writer; Malcolm Reading, Architect and Competition Director; and Norman Springford (jury chair), Chairman, Ross Development Trust. Additional jury members, including an elected City of Edinburgh Council member (pending the upcoming local elections) will be announced later in the competition process.

The initiative will regenerate and renew a nationally-important space at the heart of West Princes Street Gardens and within the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the rallying point for some of Scotland’s most high-profile events and celebrations, notably Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Festival’s closing fireworks concert. The site is presently occupied by the Ross Bandstand.

Established in 2016, the Ross Development Trust is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation whose purpose is to advance the appreciation and promotion of the arts, culture and heritage within West Princes Street Gardens, and through this, encourage the rejuvenation of Edinburgh city centre.

The Trust, which has committed a substantial gift towards the project, is raising funds from both private and public sources, and is working closely with the land owners, the City of Edinburgh Council, on this initiative. Other key project stakeholders include Edinburgh World Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, the Edinburgh Festival, the Cockburn Association, and the Old Town Community Council.

The competition is being run according to EU procurement guidelines and the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015. It is independently organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC). MRC specialises in competitions for museums and arts, heritage, and non-profit organisations and is currently running the Clandon Park International Design Competition for the National Trust.

Construction is expected to begin in 2018.


Ross Pavilion International Design Competition

The competition has been advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union. For full details of the process please visit the microsite

Information on the shortlisted teams

Adjaye Associates (UK) with Morgan McDonnell, BuroHappold, Turley, JLL, Arup, Plan A Consultants, Charcoalblue and Sandy Brown Associates

Adjaye Associates was established in June 2000 by founder and principal architect Sir David Adjaye OBE. Receiving ever-increasing worldwide attention, the firm has offices in London and New York and completed work on four continents. Two of the practice’s largest commissions to date are the design of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and the Moscow School of Management (SKOLKOVO). Projects range in scale from private houses, exhibitions, and temporary pavilions to major arts centres, civic buildings, and masterplans. Renowned for an eclectic material and colour palette and a capacity to offer a rich civic experience, the buildings differ in form and style, yet are unified by their ability to generate new typologies and to reference a wide cultural discourse.

BIG Bjarke Ingels Group (Denmark) with jmarchitects, GROSS. MAX., WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Alan Baxter Associates, JLL, Speirs + Major, Charcoalblue and People Friendly Design

For over a decade, BIG Bjarke Ingels Group has been building a reputation as one of the most creative and intelligent architecture offices in the world, working for major institutions such as the Smithsonian and companies such as Google. With over 400 employees based in Copenhagen, New York and London, BIG’s projects are widely recognized as sophisticated design solutions that create dynamic community spaces and innovative forms. BIG’s buildings have been successful on many levels, winning prestigious international awards for architecture, landscape, and urban design, while achieving programmatic, budget and schedule goals. Significant projects in their cultural portfolio include the Serpentine Pavilion for Summer 2016, the Danish Maritime Museum, a museum come to life in an abandoned dry dock in Helsingør, Denmark and 2015 Mies Van Der Rohe Finalist, and their ongoing work with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Flanagan Lawrence (UK) with Gillespies, Expedition Engineering, JLL, Arup and Alan Baxter Associates

Flanagan Lawrence and their team of Arup, Expedition, Gillespies and JLL have developed considerable experience and expertise based on a number of award-winning performing arts projects, delivered in highly sensitive historical contexts. These include the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, the Acoustic Shells in Littlehampton and the innovative Soundforms Mobile Acoustic Performance Shell which were led by Jason Flanagan of Flanagan Lawrence Architects. Our team includes Expedition Engineering and Arup, with whom Flanagan Lawrence collaborated on the design for the refurbishment of the Szczecin Amphitheatre in Poland. We are currently working with JLL on the planning of a new Music Centre at St Andrews University on a complex historic site beside St Mary’s Quad. Gillespies’, our landscape architect, are an award winning practice who delivered the recent works to St Andrew Square.

Page \ Park Architects (UK) with West8, BuroHappold, Muir Smith Evans and Charcoalblue

As one of Scotland’s leading practices Page \ Park Architects, currently restoring the Mackintosh building for the Glasgow School of Art has a reputation for contemporary interventions within sensitive historic settings, coupled with a strong portfolio of performance venue experience including the refurbishment of Kelvingrove Bandstand and Amphitheatre in Glasgow. Acclaimed landscape architects West 8 with a proven track record of world class projects such as Jubilee Gardens and BuroHappold bring their global expertise and innovation to the civil / structural and services engineering. This tripartite arrangement is supplemented by specialists venue consultants Charcoalblue and planning consultant Muir Smith Evans.

Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter (Norway) with GROSS. MAX., AECOM, Groves-Raines Architects and Charcoalblue

Reiulf Ramstad Architects is an independent Oslo-based architectural firm with a high level of expert knowledge and a distinct ideology. The firm has a strong conceptual approach combined with experience from past accomplished projects. Over the years RRA has produced a wide range of innovative and ground breaking projects with an exceptional variation of scale and program. RRA have earned a reputation for creating bold, simple architecture with a strong connection to the impressive Scandinavian landscape. Notable completed projects in Norway include the Trollstigen Visitor Centre, Romsdal Museum and Selvika National Tourist Route. The firm has shown a multitude of approaches in solving assignments, both nationally and internationally and has received numerous awards for its projects. These include Architizer Firm of the Year 2015, The International Architecture Award for 2013 for Trollstigen and three nominations for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – the Mies van der Rohe Award.

wHY (USA) with GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, O Street, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Yann Kersalé Studio, Lawrence Barth, Stuco, Alan Cumming, Aaron Hicklin, Alison Watson, Peter Ross, Adrian Turpin and Beatrice Colin

wHY is an interdisciplinary design practice dedicated to serving the arts, communities, culture and the environment since 2004. Led by founder and creative director Kulapat Yantrasast and landscape design director Mark Thomann, wHY is a collective of architects, landscape designers, makers and strategic thinkers, who work as four independent yet interconnected workshops; ideas, buildings, grounds and objects. With offices in Los Angeles and New York, wHY’s 30 team members and network of experts share a commitment to collaboration. wHY has assembled a team of thought leaders and creative influencers, including engineers, designers, plant-lovers, graphic designers, writers, journalists, actors, artists, and activists who are passionate about Scotland and participating in the conversation for the future of the Ross Pavilion. Recent projects include the widely published Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY and Skylanding with Yoko Ono, in the historic Olmsted designed Jackson Park in Chicago, IL.

William Matthews Associates (UK) and Sou Fujimoto Architects (Japan) with GROSS. MAX., BuroHappold, Purcell and Scott Hobbs

Sou Fujimoto Architects and William Matthews Associates are delighted to be shortlisted for the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition.

Sou Fujimoto Architects is an international studio established in 2000, based in Tokyo, and at the forefront of architectural design. In 2013 Fujimoto became the youngest architect to design a Serpentine Pavilion. The practice has since won design competitions in France, Hungary and Taiwan.

William Matthews Associates is an emerging London based practice established in 2013. In 2016 the studio, in collaboration with Ney & Partners, won the Tintagel Footbridge competition. Prior to establishing the firm William worked with Renzo Piano for 19 years. During this time he led the design team of the Shard mixed use tower in London.

Our team for the Ross Pavilion is completed by four leading consultants based in Edinburgh: GROSS. MAX. (landscape architects), BuroHappold (engineering services), Purcell (heritage consultant) and Scott Hobbs (planning consultant).

Ross Development Trust

The Ross Development Trust is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, registered as a Charity in Scotland, and constituted to deliver significant regeneration in West Princes Street Gardens. The Trust is tasked with finding the capital required to fund the various projects within the Gardens, for the benefit of the City.

The Board of Trustees consists of individuals with a broad range of experience, sharing a personal ambition to improve the offering of West Princes Street Gardens. There will also be representation on the Board from the City of Edinburgh Council to ensure that the City’s interests are protected.

Project Background

The Ross Bandstand is located centrally within West Princes Street Gardens, and is framed by spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle. Records of live music performances on the site date back to 1853, with the first permanent structure, designed by architects Kinnear and Peddie, erected in 1877. This was replaced by the current structure – an open air theatre – built in 1935 and designed by city architect E J Macrae. The original building was gifted to the city by William Henry Ross, former chairman of the Distillers Company. The 1935 building has been upgraded and extended a number of times throughout the 20th century.

In recent times the Bandstand has fallen into disrepair: the facilities do not meet today’s requirements and, as a result, this prominent site is not living up to its full potential. When not in use the site is closed to the public, restricting access through the Gardens and creating a void in one of the most visited green spaces in Scotland.

The ambition to replace the Bandstand dates back to 2004, when the current structure proved unable to withstand the intense storms experienced during the 2003 Hogmanay celebrations. The City of Edinburgh Council subsequently commissioned a feasibility study to explore options for the site, and make recommendations for overall improvements to the Gardens. A previous competition was launched in 2006, but the project was cancelled due to funding constraints.

Malcolm Reading Consultants

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic consultancy specialising in the selection of contemporary designers. MRC believes in the power of design to create new perceptions and act as an inspiration – either at the local level, orinternationally.

MRC is the leading specialist in design competitions in Europe. Recent work includes competitions for the National Trust, the Illuminated River Foundation, the Museum of London, the gold medal-winning UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Tintagel Castle Bridge, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Culture & Education Quarter, the Mumbai City Museum, the Natural History Museum and New College,Oxford.