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Fraser Brown MacKenna

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Project Profile
Ronaldson's Wharf

A three phase tenure-blind development in an historic area, Ronaldson's Wharf re-energises a derelict site utilising a contemporary architecture to integrate with and enhance the sense of place.

The wharf was a longstanding area of dereliction and neglect at the heart of the historic Leith Conservation Area comprising run down tenements and industrial sheds. In 1995, Fraser Brown MacKenna won an international design competition to redevelop the site. Together with residents, the civic authorities and Civic Trust groups, an ambitious programme of consultation commenced to develop the scheme design.

Initially, there was a hesitancy to forge a new modern identity through a modern vernacular. Combined with a degree of uncertainty about the future of the residential market, the design development process took five years with the design of the waterfront building, housing units for private sale, rationalized from four pavilions to a single block.

The scheme is comprised of three distinct buildings. A and B (the waterside blocks) house 62 apartments for private sale. The serpentine form of Block C to the rear of the site houses 48 two and three bedroomed socially rented apartments, managed by the Port of Leith Housing Association.

Directional windows on the waterfront block frame views upriver and prevent overlooking onto private balcony spaces and allows light to penetrate deep within the plan. The palette of materials which includes cedar, aluminium glass and steel is reflected elsewhere in this `tenure blind' scheme, where the private and socially rented accommodation cannot be distinguished.

At ground floor level, commercial units are set back under a colonnade, behind a gently serpentine plan façade, a new riverfront footpath creating the final link along a route through Edinburgh to the Pentland Hills. The three phases of the scheme restore enclosure by creating a new courtyard. Intriguing pedestrian links have been created with the surroundi...


Ronaldson's Wharf