Teviot Row House is the iconic heart of Edinburgh University Students’ Union. Constructed in 1889, this Category B listed building holds the esteemed title of the world’s oldest purpose-built student union, maintaining its significance for students, alumni, and the general public alike.
However, with the needs of today’s students significantly diverging from those of the Victorian era, Teviot faces ongoing issues related to accessibility, fabric performance, services, sanitary provision, fire safety, and the age of its facilities. This presents a unique opportunity for the University of Edinburgh to preserve the character of the building and address these challenges to elevate the building to modern-day standards.
The refurbishment project secured Planning and Listed Building Consent in October 2023, and is due to commence on site at the end of the year. This marks a milestone as its first comprehensive overhaul, with full closure, since the late 1970s.
Teviot Row House stands as a testament to time, showcasing a bespoke character and charm that stems from its 19th-century origins. While the building’s unique features have been pivotal to its allure, they also present challenges in meeting the evolving needs of the modern student. Over its 130-year history, Teviot has undergone various alterations, addressing regulatory and cultural shifts with varying degrees of success. Despite these changes, the building has retained much of its original charm.
The project’s brief is to preserve beloved and historically significant spaces such as the Debating Hall and Library Bar. This includes the faithful restoration of the 1960s Kininmonth extension, a key element in the building’s history. Additionally, we are excited to introduce new spaces like the Lower Ground Bar and Loft Bar, contributing a contemporary layer to Teviot’s evolution.
A pivotal intervention is the installation of a new ramp to Bristo Square, a design that harmonizes with the historic building while crucially providing assistance-free access to Teviot for the first time. These strategic interventions are poised to enhance the enjoyment and usability of Teviot, ensuring its relevance and appeal for the next generation of 21st-century students.
The University of Edinburgh
Bristo Square, Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
Harley Haddow LLP