The Lookout Restaurant
Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Complete November 2018
Edinburgh City Council / Collective
£4 million (full development)
Edinburgh City Council
The extensive refurbishment of the Category A Listed City Observatory, Transit House, Playfair Monument and Boundary Walls at Calton Hill, Edinburgh, includes a beautiful new restaurant ‘The Lookout’ which cantilevers over the north east corner of the boundary wall, offering spectacular panoramic views of Edinburgh and beyond.
The Lookout is perched elegantly over the city, balancing technical skills and creativity. Floor to ceiling glazing allows patrons to focus on the surrounding views, and the carefully restored observatory is visually connected to the restaurant interior by an elegantly fluted ceiling and star constellation laser cut into a dramatic pendant, forming the perfect frame to view the night sky.
The form of the restaurant is designed with a geometric kinship to the Playfair Monument, diagonally opposite. From outside the compound it appears to be single storey, projecting out in a bold manner over the boundary wall. A series of stone columns support the roof, set in an asymmetric arrangement to create a sense of anchoring the building back into the hill. The pyramid roof form is topped by a glazed oculus, to echo the form of the Observatory House.
The restaurant required a careful and creative blend of sensitive conservation, contemporary architecture, and dynamic interior design. The historic sensitivity of the site had to be balanced with a hotbed of culture, resulting in a vibrant melting pot that embraces art and culture to provide a wonderfully theatrical dining experience.
Collective Architecture and Adam Storey crafted rich storytelling formed around the site’s astronomical influences and the surrounding Scottish landscape. These stories are intended to inspire and excite diners with their unique dining moment, ensuring that they could enjoy stunning views. The restaurant needed to be able to work both day and night and compliment the talented team from the Gardener’s Cottage.
This resultant interior is a true celebration of science and arts, leading a recharged contemporary Scottish Enlightenment.