Search begins for a new Ross Bandstand

An international design competition has been launched to replace Edinburgh's famous Ross Bandstand.

The current venue image credit david springford of infinity photography
The current venue image credit david springford of infinity photography

The historic venue, nestled in the heart of West Princes Street Gardens under Edinburgh Castle, is set to be replaced thanks to the support of benefactors the Ross Development Trust in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council. 

Malcolm Reading Consultants today (Thursday 9 February) launched an international search for an outstanding team to design a replacement Pavilion for the Bandstand, a visitor centre to include a café and improvements to the surrounding landscape.

Architects are being asked to design a replacement structure for the year-round benefit of communities and visitors in consultation with heritage bodies, festival producers and residents. 

Once all permissions have been granted, work could get underway on the winning design by 2018.

Additional improvements in West Princes Street Gardens will include restoring the Ross Fountain to full working order, refurbishing the three rain shelters next to the Floral clock and replacing the road access bridge leading to King's Stables Road.

The Ross Development Trust has committed a substantial gift towards the project. Further individual gifts have already been pledged and further fundraising will be undertaken as part of the project.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s Culture Convener, said: "This is a unique opportunity for an architect to re-imagine one of the most stunning settings in Scotland. Situated in the heart of the Cultural Capital, the Ross Bandstand boasts 80 years of concerts and events including Edinburgh’s world-famous Festivals.

“While there is no doubt it has provided Edinburgh with an excellent venue, we are now at the stage where it is in real need of redevelopment. Rather than make temporary improvements on our own, the Ross Development Trust’s support and funding allows us to set our sights much higher.

“This design competition is a unique chance to revitalise the venue and the surrounding gardens, including the city’s historic Ross Fountain. It will be fascinating to see the finalists’ concept designs and I’m certain the brief will generate huge interest.”

The Chairman of the Ross Development Trust and Competition Jury Chair, Norman Springford, said: "This is a project for one of the most important places in Scotland and we want it to communicate the very essence of Edinburgh: a dynamic city with an unrivalled arts and cultural pedigree – a city that’s forward-looking while tuned into its history. We would like the Pavilion to have an original design of international quality and significance that says ‘Edinburgh’.

“Designers will need to be sensitive to context and historic setting – the Castle being a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the Gardens having botanical, commemorative and civic interest. But the design for the new Pavilion and the wider project must also communicate Edinburgh’s creative energies and international profile. We all really look forward to being involved in this exciting public-private partnership.”

Malcolm Reading, Competition Director, said: "This is a site with strategic position, a rich and varied topography, not to mention a 900-year-old Castle on hand.  A Pavilion offers designers one of the ultimate creative tests – the potential to create a world-within-a-world.

“The competition will create not only a civic emblem but also a living entity, a much-needed platform at the heart of the city, for national and local events, to re-energise this valued green space."

Full details of how to enter the competition, which will be open until 13 March, can be found on the competition website.

Follow the progress of the project at the Ross Development Trust website.

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