7-8 Chamber Street
Completed - March 2019
University of Edinburgh
£ 3.4 million
AJ Retrofit Awards 2019 Higher and Further Education - Shortlisted
7-8 Chambers Street is a Category C listed building adjacent to Adam House on Chambers Street and is owned by the University of Edinburgh. The building, purchased from Police Scotland, required extensive upgrades to convert it to an academic facility that accommodates architectural school studios, exhibition spaces, teaching rooms and offices. Originally designed in 1887 as a printing works, the building has two distinct internal characters with ornate spaces to the south; the original shop and offices, and more industrial spaces to north; where the printing presses were housed.
The multi-bodied nature of the University of Edinburgh meant that at the start of this project we undertook a number of stakeholder consultation exercises to identify the needs of the key user groups including ESALA staff who’s students and teaching staff will use the building, Estates team who will manage the building and Trades team who will maintain the property. This process helped the design team to understand the various protocols and gateways that the client needed to implement for the project as well as inform the brief and set out the priorities for the accommodation that needed to be provided within a very constrained urban site.
Refurbishment involved conservation works to the external fabric to repair the roof, sash and case windows, lead and stone work and restoration of the original shop-front façade to the street. Internal works included extensive down-takings of previous unsympathetic alterations, total replacement of all services, the integration of a new lift to access all floors, significant improvement to fire safety design and works to preserve the decorative cornice-work and timber detailing. In spite of the complexities of converting a listed building to suit the client’s specific brief the project was delivered to a very tight programme of 18 months from inception to completion of the works.
The use of colour throughout the building has been praised by the students and teachers occupying it, making the interior spaces feel bright and enjoyable to inhabit and work in. The building’s street presence is vastly improved, with the original shop-front façade revitalised and opened up to welcome visitors in.
The building is currently in use by the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture but has been designed with flexibility and adaptability in mind to allow the University of Edinburgh to house different departments within as their needs change and grow over time.