Landmark Development in Donaldson’s Grounds Now Underway

by Scott Douglas

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

WORK has started on a highly-anticipated new development in Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.

A sweeping crescent of glass-fronted, contemporary new residences will be created in the grounds of Donaldson’s, one of the city’s most iconic locations.

CALA Homes is behind the construction project, which will bring to life the vision of acclaimed architect, Richard Murphy, OBE. His design for The Crescent will complement the restoration of the neighbouring Category A-listed Playfair building.

David McGrath, Managing Director of CALA Homes (East) said: “It is a privilege to be involved in this project, so we are delighted that work has now started on the site.

“It is rare enough to earn the chance to create new homes in a World Heritage Site – let alone to be working in a location as special as Edinburgh’s renowned Donaldson’s site. This promises to be a one-of-a-kind development and one that we are extremely proud and excited to be part of.”

The historic and turreted Playfair building is one of the most recognisable in Edinburgh and was most recently home to Donaldson’s School for the Deaf. However rising costs saw the school move to a purpose-built new campus in Linlithgow, West Lothian in 2008.

Thereafter the site, purchased by CALA Homes, was mothballed for a number of years, to take account of the economic downturn. During that period the plans to restore the building and transform the wider location was painstakingly drawn up and approved, including extensive consultation with the local community and heritage groups.

That saw CALA partner with heritage restoration specialists City & Country, which took on the conversion of the 1851 William Playfair building into a variety of apartments, a process which started in 2016.

Meanwhile, CALA progressed with its plans to create The Crescent at Donaldson’s, a sweeping collection of new apartments to the secluded north of the listed building. It is the work on that impressive new element of the site which has now started.

The first stage of the construction involves a significant excavation, which will create the underground parking, part of the design intended to keep the site as free from cars as possible once it is completed and landscaped.

Following this, construction will commence on the westernmost half of the split crescent, to create a stylish, glass-fronted building which cleverly takes a host of design cues – including its height and form – from the finest buildings in Edinburgh’s celebrated Georgian New Town.

The crescent form of the design itself has also been carefully considered to connect the site with a prominent feature of Georgian architecture, while perfectly complementing and interplaying with the Playfair building. Several examples of Georgian crescents exist in Edinburgh’s New Town.

The luxury homes in The Crescent will include garden flats, duplexes and penthouses, all boasting panoramic views of the Playfair building, Edinburgh skyline and the Pentland Hills beyond, meaning owners will enjoy one of the most spectacular outlooks in the city.

David McGrath added: “Everything about this project makes it so special. The architects have pulled a masterstroke in coming up with designs which are stylish and modern, yet also pay a respectful homage to the World Heritage site.

“While CALA is already known as Scotland’s foremost developer of upmarket family homes, this is the latest site where we have shown we do so much more. We regularly take on projects that challenge our team to deliver complex engineering and design solutions. This leads to CALA being able to take on a wide variety of developments in and out of the city.

“The Crescent at Donaldson’s is the culmination of years of painstaking work ensure a development which is dynamic and new, yet also fitting and appropriate for such a location.

“Starting the construction process is a huge milestone and we hope The Crescent will become a landmark in its own right for decades to come.”

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Scott Douglas, of public relations agency Holyrood PR in Scotland

Scott Douglas

Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood PR, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.

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