Edinburgh Printmakers, Castle Mill Works Redevelopment
Internal Floor Area
Re-purposing our industrial heritage for contemporary artistic production.
The Edinburgh Printmakers new Creative Hub is located within what once was the headquarters of the North British Rubber Company (NBRC). It is the only surviving structure from the once large and important 19th century Castle Mills Industrial Complex, and a rare example of a 19th century polychromatic brick industrial building.
The design involves the redevelopment of this now derelict building into a new centre for printmaking production. The first key architectural move was to make a new, visible, fully accessible entrance off Dundee St to create a strong presence and shop front for the Printmakers, a lens into their Creative Hub – as well as contributing to the developing streetscape.
The second key move is to insert a modest two storey extension to the rear of the existing building that shifts the centre of gravity to a new external courtyard garden. The extension contains the Deli Wine Bar which forms the heart of the project where printmakers, creative industry artists and gallery visitors all cross paths. The courtyard also addresses the broader redevelopment of the CastleMills site and becomes one of a series of public spaces creating interesting pedestrian routes through the site.
The building contains a reception and shop, galleries, deli wine bar, education space, printmaking studio, archive and storage spaces and staff accommodation, in addition to rentable Creative Industries studios and an ‘Artist in Residence’ flat. The Printmaking Studio sits at first floor level in the expansive triple height former fitting & turning workshop, with the original muscular cast iron structure and timber trusses exposed.
The Edinburgh Printmakers developed an exciting, dynamic and ambitious brief for their new Creative Hub. They were keen to capture all the characteristics of their very successful existing facility at Union Street, but also expand their business to develop a more inclusive facility for both the production and display of art. The new accommodation includes a large printmaking studio – 50% larger than their current facility – with associated dark room, digital printing room, etc., two high quality gallery spaces, a Deli Wine Bar, an Education room, various archive and storage rooms, staff accommodation as well as a series of rentable Creative Industry Studio spaces.
Shared spaces for creative industry practitioners from the fields of design, contemporary craft, fine art, performance and other related arts fields to work collectively are increasingly popular, as people see the benefits and great value in collaborating and sharing resources. The Edinburgh Printmakers Creative Hub proposal includes eight Creative Industry Studios, along with an Artist in Residence Flat, which provide rentable space for a diverse range of tenants across the creative industries.
- We worked closely with the Printmakers to:
Understand the functional needs and specific technical requirements of each space to ensure this is achieved in the final building.
- Understand their business plan, particularly the provision of Creative Industry spaces, and develop a rentable studio type flexible enough to accommodate a variety of future clients.
- Develop an industrial aesthetic for the new interventions to ensure the character and quality of the existing building is not lost through redevelopment.
- Develop an accessibility strategy for this complex existing building with many different floor levels to ensure all areas are fully accessible to people with varying abilities.
A key part of the project involves the commissioning of five new permanent artworks. We have worked closely with the Printmakers and their selected artists to facilitate the coordination and integration of these works into the construction process.
The North British Rubber Company (NBRC) Office Building is the only surviving element of a once large and important 19th century industrial complex in Edinburgh which was internationally renowned at the height of its industrial output, exporting products around the world. Its most significant contributions to industry include the production of both the vulcanised tyres in 1875 and the invention of detachable pneumatic tyres in 1890, the forerunner of modern tyres. The company was also highly significant for producing high quality rubber boots for World War One and various rubber based products for combat in the Second World War. At its height, it was the largest industrial site in Edinburgh, occupying over 20 acres and employing over 3,000 people.
The NBRC Office Building is Category C listed and has particular value in relation to the historic industrial and social heritage of the area. The building is also a rare example in the area of a building of 19th century polychrome brickwork and it retains some original detailing to the interior dating to 1916.
Our proposal for redevelopment prioritises the importance of preserving the historic fabric as well as the industrial character. New interventions are light of touch, responding to and celebrating the existing cast iron and timber structure, carefully cleaning and repairing the unique existing polychromatic brickwork and fully refurbishing the original timber sash and case windows.
The interior design for the project focused particularly on the development of the new Reception/Shop area which was led by our in-house interiors team.
We carried out a detailed analysis of the client’s existing shop facility, reviewing and analysing the operational requirements of the existing reception and shop, whilst being mindful of the Edinburgh Printmaker’s aspirations moving forward. Through looking at three identified visitor roles – exhibition visitor, shop visitor and commercial buyer – we mapped out flow diagrams for each scenario to help understand how EP operate and how the purchasing process for each visitor functions. Following on from this, we developed a bespoke interior solution for the reception and shop area incorporating print browsers, a curatable display wall, display shelving and a multi-functional reception desk/till point to create the high quality, shopping experience desired.