Tuesday, October 04, 2005

That Old Town redevelopment

According to the Herald, the Calton Road area of Edinburgh's Old Town is to be redeveloped. It is true that Calton Road is a wee bit dingy, and could do with a facelift.
A NEW street would be built in Edinburgh's Old Town for the first time since the 1870s under plans for a £180m scheme to redevelop the historic quarter.
Images released yesterday show how the Waverley Valley would look if the ambitious project receives the go-ahead.

This is all good news, and the development actually looks quite reasonable: bright and spacious. In fact, it sounds excellent, with artists' studios to replace the ones that are shortly to be lost in the old Bongo Club on New Street: nice to see Edinburgh Council thinking of the city's cultural base, for once. However, I do have one (fairly major) quibble.
...the Calton Gate scheme would also include a new five-star hotel in the Royal Mile.
The 200-bed, glass-fronted building would sit at one end of a new pedestrian thoroughfare to be created through the Canongate to Calton Gate with an entrance on to the High Street.

(My emphasis.) I really wish that people would stop building with glass in Scotland: it's completely stupid. Look, it's Scotland: in winter, when the days are extremely short, it's really quite cold; however, in summer, when the days are considerably longer, it can actually get very, very hot. Does anyone see the flaw in the glass idea yet?

That's right. In winter, glass is actually very cold because, it's quite thin and it has a lot of gaps for that bracing 'Burgh wind to whistle through: this means that the buildings are expensive to heat. In the summer, when—believe it or not, my southern chums—it gets very sunny: the glass magnifies the sun's rays, and the buildings are very expensive to keep cool.

As a bonus, it does rain quite a lot here, and there's a lot of traffic in a small area, so the glass gets very dirty. The glass-facade of New Uberior House, the Bank of Scotland headquarters here in merry Tollcross, gets very, very dirty. So, every couple of weeks, these close off a lane of the roads either side, and get a couple of cranes in to clean the glass. More expense, more madness, more traffic-jams, more stress. The glass looks good for about 2 days, then it looks like shit again.

Aesthetically, it can also be rather dreary, as the glass reflects the sky which is, rather often, somewhat grey. Thus the glass looks grey, and rather depressing. Or, of course, if it is sunny it's reflects the sun and blinds drivers. Quite, quite brilliant.

There is a reason that the majority of buildings in Edinburgh are made of stone and have relatively small windows. Stone tends to be cool in hot weather, but releases what heat it has gathered slowly through the hours of darkness, thus keeping a more even temperature. Stone, and small windows, keep the warmth in in winter.

Quite nervously brilliant, my dear...

More, with a little controversy, here and here.

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