Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article

 

Director's Notes - February 2013

Monthly update from EWH Director Adam Wilkinson.


Feb 20, 2013

An informed approach to conservation remains at the heart of the projects we offer grants to, with the view that gaining a good understanding of a building early on reduces the opportunity to make expensive mistakes later on. This is particularly important in the context of a World Heritage Site, where the notion of authenticity is deemed critical by international conventions to the value of these wonderful places.

Consequently, we are excited to be involved in architect James White’s initiative to open up the discussion about what constitutes ‘authentic’ in the context of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh. This initiative, the New Architectures of World Heritage Conference, is happening on 12-15 March at Minto House, Chambers Street.

Two projects where work is underway to properly understand the building and inform change are Panmure House, Adam Smith’s residence just off the Royal Mile (and behind the listed modernist Basil Spence buildings) and the City Observatory on Calton Hill. Both are Category A Listed, and both are on the register of buildings at risk.

At Panmure House, the Edinburgh Business School is planning to invest heavily in the building as a city centre facility, close to the Holyrood Parliament, and we are pleased to support a new conservation statement for the building, recognising the changes in their proposals that have resulted from a conservation led approach to the building.

A short, but steep, walk from Panmure House and you are atop Calton Hill, where Playfair’s City Observatory sits, commanding magnificent views of the surroundings far and near. The downside of this splendid position is that the building is terribly exposed, and it has been sitting empty for some time. The City of Edinburgh is now turning its mind to the sensitive reuse of these buildings, and we are delighted to be supporting a conservation statement to ensure the right approach is taken to the fabric of the building.

Ensuring the right information is in the right hands at the right time extends through to other programmes of ours, and school children will shortly have access to many of the characters of the Enlightenment through our City of Genius guide to that remarkable period of Edinburgh’s history. We are thrilled with the finished product, which will engage minds of all ages in the excitement of the eighteenth century in Edinburgh.

The interpretation of the city is not just a matter for visitor and schoolchildren. It is a matter for all residents of Edinburgh to engage with, and we are very interested in how people perceive the city. Consequently we are holding a series of workshops on the idea of community mapping. The idea is for people to map out their routes through the city, noting what is of interest and value to them on those walks. This helps us build up an understanding of how the people of the Edinburgh experience and engage with their city, and will help guide future interpretive work. For more details on the workshops, which are open to all, click here……

Finally, February sees our first dipping of toes into the waters of legacy giving, by joining the Love the Arts, Leave to the Arts campaign. Unbelievably, only 13% of the population have an up to date will in place, and only a small proportion of these include gifts to charities. The campaign aims to link those considering the writing of a will with a solicitor who will do it for free, during February, on the condition that something is left to one of the charities participating in the campaign (which includes EWH). For more details, please contact me.



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