Sean Connery Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Our first proposal for a new Filmhouse Centre for the International Film Festival and Scottish Screen Industries was presented to the public at the conclusion of the 2004 International Film Festival and received much publicity. Since then the design has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, but at the same time we have had the opportunity to take on board many of the reactions to the radicalism of the first idea and our client has also had the opportunity to revisit the brief.

The result is an increase in accommodation but a seemingly smaller building! The design now uses much less of the Square than before having a circular plan (in a great historical tradition of circular buildings sitting in open spaces) but has gained a storey above ground and a basement auditorium. From top to bottom the accommodation consists of roof top restaurant and terrace; offices for festival, filmhouse and lettable space; 600 seat auditorium capable of reduction to 300 seats with breakout space/festival film industry space/private hire; four auditoria of 150, 150, 75 and 75 capacity; ground floor bar/cafe, shop and box office; and basement 300 seat auditorium, gallery, WCs etc.

Following on from our design of the cinema at Dundee Contemporary Arts, most of the auditoria have the facility to connect with the outside world before and after a film showing through a variety of hinged and sliding panels giving the exterior a constantly kinetic quality and anchoring the experience of seeing a film into that of being in Edinburgh. In addition, vertical movement is largely visible against the exterior and external cinema screens advertise trailers of films during both day and night.

The placing of the building eccentrically in Festival Square gives a framed view of the entrance of the Sheraton Hotel whilst denying only twenty four percent of the hotel's windows their current castle view. The bar/cafe at ground floor level opens directly onto the sunny side of the square and helps populate what is currently largely the realm of the skateboarder. Approximately on axis with Cambridge Street opposite, it deliberately sits as far forward as possible with a view to reinforcing the concept of a public space stretching from the Usher Hall (with which it has a powerful rhetoric) to the Sheraton. Tentative proposals by the city to traffic calm this section of Lothian Road would greatly enhance this concept.

The project never progressed.

Other Details

Architects Richard Murphy, David Stronge, David Morris, Tom Fuggle
Construction Cost £17m
Client Edinburgh Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival

Press

10 Sept 2008 Lights, Camera, Action To Create Movie Mecca From Eyesore The Scotsman
31 August 2004 £20m Vision Of New Home For Cinema Evening News
24 June 2006 Film Chief Raps Lack Of Premiere Site The Scotsman
11 Oct 2005 Filmhouse Scene Woos City Chiefs Evening News
Dec 2004 Sean Connery Filmhouse To Be Home To Edinburgh Festival Cinema Business
20 Sept 2004 Walkway Threatens To Cut Cinema Vision Evening News
5 Sept 2004 The Perfect Vision For Scottish Film Scotland On Sunday
3 Sept 2004 Square Desperately Needs Starring Role Evening News
2 Sept 2004 Immortalised In Celluloid The Scotsman S2
2 Sept 2004 Connery's Name In Lights The Herald
2 Sept 2004 City Rejects Festival Square As Site For Connery Film Centre The Scotsman
2 Sept 2004 Filmhouse Plan Leaves Hotel Reeling Evening News
1 Sept 2004 Film Festival Sets Out To Premiere £20m Home In Heart Of City The Scotsman
1 Sept 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival To Have Own Home With Five Cinemas The Herald
3 Sept 2004 Architect Defends Festival Square As Site For Film Centre The Scotsman
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