Edinburgh’s blessed by beautiful built and natural environments — and iconic landmarks like the castle, perched atop a dormant volcano, blend both.
With an Adams-designed Neoclassical New Town that’s the epitome of elegance and an Old Town packed with unique buildings, something novel catches the eye on each visit.
But it’s also a city with a clutch of delightful 20th and 21st Century designs — so if you find modern architecture mouthwatering, here are five Edinburgh highlights.
1. Hobbit House
Attending a concert at the Hobbit House arena in west Princes Street Gardens is sure to be a unique treat — once its complete in 2023. Designed by US architects wHY, this ultra-hip, undulating, organic, grass-topped design replaces the Ross Bandstand and was nominated for awards at the World Architecture Festival while it had barely emerged from the drawing board.
2. Dynamic Earth
Dynamic Earth is situated close to Arthur’s Seat at Holyrood and is a superb science attraction which tells the interactive story of evolution from the big bang to the present moment.
It’s fun and educational for all ages of visitor but also notable for its impressive architecture. Resembling a large festival tent, it was designed by Hopkins Architects in 1999 to represent the interface between artifice and nature and features a fabric roof stretched over a two-storey exhibition space.
3. The Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament is also located at Holyrood and houses the devolved Scottish administration.
Constructed from oak, steel and granite and nestled at the foot of the volcanic Salisbury crags, to the untrained eye it looks like a series of interconnected upturned boats.
Designer Enric Miralles envisioned it as an organic entity ‘growing out of the land’ and renowned Scottish poet Edwin Morgan described it as having ‘huddles and heavens, syncopations and surprises’ in a piece he dedicated to its opening in 2004.
4. University of Edinburgh Main Library
This A-listed building at George Square in the city centre was designed by Sir Basil Spence and completed in 1967 — its sharp, sleek rectangular design has been hailed as a fine example of late Modernism.
It’s constructed of concrete columns, York stone facings and doorframes and windows of silver anodized aluminium. It received a RIBA award in 1968 and a Civic Trust Commendation the following year.
5. Edinburgh Airport Control Tower
Edinburgh Airport is Scotland’s busiest, and is blessed by an in-house BrewDog bar, shops like Michael Kors and parking providers like Looking4.com.
But the most memorable feature of this busy airport must be its iconic control tower. Designed by 3DReid, it resembles a stretched pepper shaker, is clad with distinctive diamond shaped aluminium shingles and has a hidden first floor ‘drawer’ which is used to discreetly deliver and remove technical gear.
Although Edinburgh will always be better known for its older architecture, as our list proves, there are plenty of modern marvels to discover too.
That’s our list! Chat about your own favourite Edinburgh buildings in the comments section.