Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Director's Notes – December 2017

Adam Wilkinson reflects on recent achievements and future priorities at Edinburgh World Heritage

Dec 1, 2017

2017 has been the year in which a great deal has come right for Edinburgh World Heritage. Successful funding bids mean that our team is growing and its expertise broadening (this month we welcome Yann and Alena). Our programme of advocacy means that World Heritage in Edinburgh has a voice that is in increasingly listened to, even if the message is not wholly popular in all corners of the city (such as with the discussion this summer over the visitor economy). Conservation projects have started to really kick off after a long period of work to get them going, particularly with tenemental properties and all their challenges, and our international work, bringing knowledge and experience back to Edinburgh, has stepped up a notch. Our membership (and our team and board members!) have enjoyed an excellent series of events. The Council’s Development Sub Committee has stated, very clearly, that “Good enough is not good enough for Edinburgh”.

I am immensely grateful to the team and board for all their hard work in bringing about this success and I greatly look forward to the coming year. We look forward to celebrating the year with many of you at our Christmas party at St Cecilia’s Hall on the 12th of December.

As surely as years come to a close, so do the lives of our heroes, and we were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of architect Ian Begg last week. Ian was one of the great figures in conservation not just in Edinburgh, but more widely in Scotland. Following an apprenticeship with Harry Hubbard in Kirkadly, Ian worked on the restoration of buildings on the Canongate, as assistant to Robert Hurd, from 1951. The programme of restoration was ground breaking in that it was the first time the city council stepped in to save an entire street, promoting the value of conservation of demolition. Conservation, restoration and new buildings in the vernacular style were the hallmarks of Ian’s work, and the Raddison Blu hotel on the Royal Mile, oft derided by fellow architects but rather liked by the general public, is a rare example of a new building in Edinburgh using vernacular. This was part of continued efforts to revive the Old Town – efforts which many would argue are now at risk of being undone by market forces.

Ian wrote beautifully about his overall approach to design, as in this 1997 essay.

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