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Edinburgh, Quartermile Ventures Limited (QVL)

This 9-hectare site, positioned between the historic Old Town, and The Meadows, represents one of the most significant pieces of city centre developments in Scotland. With those working at OPEN leading the design and implementation of public realm and landscape proposals whilst at EDAW, OPEN has now been engaged to deliver the remaining phases.

The Quartermile project has redeveloped the former site of Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, transforming it into a true city centre mixed-use development. Working with Foster and Partners, members of OPEN’s team developed public realm proposals from early concept stages through to completion on site. The main aim has been to open the site up, creating a new accessible area of city centre that had been closed off from the public since the early parts of the previous century.

One of the major challenges in terms of place making was how to create a distinctive new quarter that respected the historic city centre context, specifically The Meadows along the southern boundary and the Old Town to the north. Another was creating a setting for the new Foster and Partners buildings, and also the retained listed buildings by architects such as William Adam, Sidney Mitchell and David Bryce.

In order to meet these challenges, a simple, contemporary, robust approach was taken to the public realm. This approach allowed a unifying environment to be implemented, which, while respecting the adjacent city centre characters, became distinctly ‘Quartermile’. Hard and soft materials were carefully selected in consultation with all stakeholders, including the client, design team and City of Edinburgh Council Planning Department. Once planning had been secured, all areas proposed for adoption were submitted for RCC approval.

Quartermile is now approximately 70% complete, and has become an established, vibrant quarter on the south of Edinburgh’s city centre. Quartermile has become a distinctive place for people to work, shop, explore and live within. This includes those at OPEN, as the studio is now located within the heart of Quartermile.