Hypostyle Architects Glasgow Edinburgh

Forrest Hill Refurbishment and Alterations

BUDGET: £1.9m

CLIENT CONTACT: Callum Robertson, Estate Development Manager (HSS), University of Edinburgh, Estates & Buildings, 9 Infirmary Road, Edinburgh EH1 1NP

Hypostyle were appointed by the University of Edinburgh to refurbish and upgrade their existing facilities at Foresthill to provide appropriate decant space for the School of Informatics.  These were required to enable the School to decant from Appleton Tower in early summer 2015 and were they would until the complete renovation of the Tower was complete, including new external cladding and windows. 

The building at 5 Forresthill was B-Listed in 1975 and consists of a 5-storey 'Tenement’ type block with adjoining arch roofed 'Drill Hall' to the south, all accessed via a pend off Forrest Road.  The Drill Hall dates from 1872, when it replaced a Charity Workhouse on the site, with the Tenement block having been rebuilt in 1904 to form the HQ of The Queen's Rifle Volunteer Brigade "The Royal Scots".  The Drill Hall was integral to the HQ, with a firing range being incorporated in an underground basement below it.  Located in the centre of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site  it incorporates on two sides the boundary wall of the world famous Greyfriar’s churchyard and cemetery.

The building was vacated in 1982 and was then adapted by the University for academic activities and the Drill Hall used as a garage.  Informatics, then known as Artificial Intelligence, did occupy the building before moving out into premises subsequently destroyed in the Cowgate fire, resulting in their move to Appleton Tower. 

Within the 5-storey Tenement section the Second and Fourth floors remained unchanged, with the University’s Communications Team remaining in place.  The remaining floors of this part of the building were completely refurbished and fitted out for Informatics.  This included the installation of a new lift installation, incorporated into the existing lightwell in the centre of the building footprint. This enabled most areas of the building to be fully accessible for the first time, however, due to the multiple split-levels with the five stories of the main building this lift does not serve all parts of the building.  In developing the brief with Informatics a practical solution was reached to enable full teaching facilities to be made to any student or member of staff requiring DDA compliant access.  

The Mezzanine floor installed above the Maintenance Department's garage within the former Drill Hall as part of works undertaken in 2010 was also fitted out for Informatics. This floor had no power, lighting or environmental services installed.  It also currently had no usable access being set at a higher level than the First floor levels on either side of it. The Mezzanine now consists of a large open-plan computer lab, two large teaching labs, social area and toilets, taking full advantage of the exposed barrel-vaulted roof, trusses and rooflights.

Structural Engineers: The Structural Partnership

M&E Engineers: DMP Consulting Engineers

Quantity Surveyor: KLM Partnership

Main Contractor: GHI Contracts Ltd.