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Briefing and estates

For more information on our estates optimisation consultancy services contact Euan Macdonald

External facade at Palm House

Architects look at space differently. We go to the grassroots to discover the nuances of existing facilities, question day-to-day operations and analyse future needs. The knowledge we glean enables estates managers to make enhanced and informed decisions around their short, medium and long-term capital investment plans.

We follow a tried and tested three step approach.

1: Discover is where we develop a comprehensive understanding of the estate and play back the findings in a straightforward, diagrammatic way.

2: Define is where we help estate managers and users to define their vision and needs for the future estate. We can help you understand the space required by your people – how you might achieve net zero - and if you need to build something new or shrink your estate.

3: Develop is where we refine and hone feasibility studies to support your strategic thinking. We work collaboratively with you to develop delivery strategies and funding models.

We can provide a Sustainability Vision Overlay and Net Zero Carbon pathway services to align with the estate vision where required. Our style uses evidence and enlightening graphics to simplify even the most dizzyingly complex of challenges, to an easily grasped concept. We help you to understand how your building assets can evolve to deliver your organisation’s aspirations.

Briefing and estates optimisation in action

Edinburgh College of Art The opportunity to unite the entire creative community onto a single site

The Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

National Galleries of Scotland A new collections facility for the National Galleries

Following the merger of Edinburgh College of Art with the University of Edinburgh in 2011 the institution has existed across a fragmented estate and been unable to fully integrate its diverse range of programmes. The acquisition of the Category A listed Fire Station provides the opportunity to unite the entire creative community onto a single site. 

We have devised a masterplan to redevelop Edinburgh College of Art’s historic Lauriston Campus. Our proposals consolidate all subjects, students, and staff onto a single campus through strategic intervention and addition of new academic space, returning historic buildings to active use and improving connections across the campus, to the university quarter and to the wider city. The development complements the University’s vision for an innovation corridor, stretching along Lauriston Place, via the Edinburgh Future’s Institute, to George Square.

Following thorough analysis of the existing estate, we identified where strategic interventions would unlock improved connections, adjacencies, operation, and growth of the campus. Our approach considers the campus as an urban village, redefining the public realm and landscaping, opening, and activating the ground floor and key spaces to refresh the identity of the campus and create a vibrant creative quarter to serve not only the University Community but residents of the whole city.

The National Galleries of Scotland estate comprises five Category A listed buildings across three sites in Edinburgh – the Scottish National Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy on the Mound, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen St and the Modern 1 and Modern 2 galleries that comprise the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in the West End of the city. Only about 5% of the Collection is on display in these galleries at any one time, the rest being held in various repositories on the outskirts of Edinburgh. 

Our study fed into the business case for The Art Works, a new collections facility for the National Galleries currently under development.

The National Galleries of Scotland has a vision of delivering ‘Art for Scotland, Inspiration for the World’, with three core goals of increased participation, impact, and achievement. These goals formed the basis on which we reviewed and assessed future development options. 

Our work involved the detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of each site and the existing space within each building. Using our in-house briefing tool, we were able to categorise each type of space in every building and analyse them comparatively. We also consulted with six specific user groups within the organisation to identify the priorities for change. 

We developed and reviewed a series of options for potential interventions that would allow NGS to generate the greatest value from each building, operationally and commercially, in the context of space that would be freed up with the opening of the National Museums Collection Centre. We also looked at what spaces were missing yet needed in the respective buildings. Chosen options were worked up into more developed designs and an estates strategy developed and costed.