Design concepts for a new bandstand and visitor centre in Princes Street Gardens are now on display at the City Art Centre until 30 July. 

Submitted for judgement next month by a jury of eminent worthies appointed by the Ross Development Trust (RDT), the seven plans include a Duracell battery charger, a Bedouin encampment, a giant loo seat, a scalextrics track, and variations on the home of the Tellytubbies. 

You can also see them here.

Some are much better than others – Park/Page’s Nymphaeum and Adjaye Associates’ knotted handkerchief are the pick of the bunch. 

All the schemes propose grassed terraces for seating, which will thrill those concertgoers who like sitting in damp mud. But there are wide differences in the attention paid to improvements elsewhere in the Gardens. wHY seem to have given the most thought to that aspect, coming up with a kind of butterfly-friendly golf links which looks totally out of place in this particular parkland context.

Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter are admirably frank about new configurations for the Blaes area close to St Cuthbert’s Church. They envisage a beer festival in a 147 x 107 sq.m. marquee, or a 46-stall farmers market, or an eight-marquee outdoor catering event, or  – who can live without one? – a 170 sq.m. winter ice rink.

Excepting Park/Page’s and Adjaye Associates’ proposals mentioned above, what characterises the schemes is a general lack of humility. The designs either scream for attention over the backdrop of the Gardens and Castle, or are spectacularly self-effacing in the manner of a demure but only half-dressed bridesmaid.

Meanwhile, most architects seem to have seen through earlier RDT protestations about only occasional use, and have designed on the assumption that the new ‘bandstand’ will serve as a year-round venue for audiences ranging from 200 to 8,000.

Spurtle remains highly suspicious of the whole project. It is presented as a philanthropic, visionary gesture that will preserve and enhance the Gardens. But we fear the Gardens will instead be trampled underfoot in the Council’s indecent haste to make money.

Your comments, of course, are welcome … on 8 narrow lines on the back of a postcard. However, they will not be considered by the jury, which meets on 11 July under the chairmanship of Norman Springford (the man with the money), and at no point will you find yourself being asked whether West Princes Street Gardens is actually the right spot for an outdoor rock concert venue in the first place.

Rather, whatever remarks you may have ‘will be held by the council for up to 3 years and will support the planning application for the new Pavilion’.

In other words, it’s a done deal.

Having worked ourselves up into a righteous froth about all this last night, Spurtle fell into a trance until interrupted by a person on business from Porty …

 Got a view? Tell us at or @theSpurtle or Facebook


Comment from @NTCleanStreets: Jury should choose best proposal, then public vote on whether to adopt or reject. If reject, demolish old bandstand and allow temporary stages – like when they voted in New Zealand about a possible new flag. Choose the best idea in the first round, and then have a public vote on whether the winner is better than what we already have.

I'm almost more of a fan of the toilet seat than the pseudo-Chinese temple that is the Adjaye effort. It's so crabbed and hobbled, the complete opposite of expansive.

I think the whole thing would benefit from a bit of HONESTY. If this is for temporary events then demolish the Ross thing and make it a garden, with permission for a temporary stage. And anyone waffling pretentiously in the blurb gets an automatic disqualification, e.g. the pavilion/papilion and Reiulf-Ramstad who would have us believe that they have put in 'water-terracing' to 'recall the Norloch'.

Reply from Broughton Spurtle: Your proposal is certainly better, but still responds to a developer's presupposition that massively upgrading the publicly owned bandstand is a necessary or desirable outcome that can be fairly addressed before and outwith a normal, transparent, democratic process. (See Breaking news, 16.6.17 for similar examples of loaded questions.) Private money (albeit well intentioned) circumventing due process stinks.

Am not a firm fan of Adjaye effort. In retrospect, may have been swayed by resemblance to shrinking haemorrhoid.

The Norloch reference was priceless. Feeble and ill-informed effort to align project to local history. Norloch was, as you know, not a creative spring but a defensive moat then stinking sewer.


55° 57' 11.7072" N, 3° 11' 17.7612" W