A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

City of Literature Trust selects architect-led design team for Literature House

Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust has selected Stirling Prize-winning architectural firm Witherford Watson Mann to lead the next phase of development at the Literature House in Edinburgh. They will be working in partnership with Groves-Raines Architects Studios, who have an outstanding record in conservation, restoration and reuse of historic buildings in Scotland, and with Edinburgh-based Studio MB, a multi-award winning interpretive design agency who work internationally.

The team will join forces to create a Literature House for Scotland at John Knox House and the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. It will create a home for Edinburgh’s literary story, be a catalyst to develop the wider area and through their programming, offer an inclusive year-round welcome to everyone in the city. The team will start work on the project in January with the intention of completing the feasibility study by the end of March 2021, and this will be followed by a phase of wider community consultation.

This comes following a competitive public procurement process led by RIAS Consultancy.

Ruth Plowden, Chair of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said: “In a strong field, this team was the unanimous choice of our panel both because of the excellence of their individual expertise and their shared vision for our ambitious project. With them on board we can take our first confident steps towards creating a Literature House for Scotland in the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature.”

William Mann, Director, Witherford Watson Mann, said: “We are really looking forward to working with the City of Literature Trust on the Literature House project. We have put together what we feel is a very strong team, collaborating with Edinburgh-based creative and specialist practices. We share a lot of values with Groves-Raines Architects: we both have an affinity for historic fabric, we focus on progressive and sustainable design solutions, and we are committed to the regeneration of local communities. Studio MB is  inventive and communicative storytellers who have made really vivid installations across the world. Together we hope to plant the first, robust seed of the Literary Quarter; to shape a building experience that invites and inspires, that hosts the warmth and heat of discussion, and that engages the imagination of visitors.”

Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan, Culture and Communities Vice Convener, said: “We welcome the appointment of Witherford Watson Mann to lead the next step in this ambitious project to create a Literature House for Scotland – a place to discover Edinburgh’s literary heritage and contemporary creativity and learn more about our capital’s incredible storytellers, and writers. I look forward to seeing the project begin and the benefits it will bring for literature and a literary quarter in the city.”

Dr Donald Smith Chief Executive of TRACS said: “As the lead programme partner at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, TRACS is delighted to support the Literature House vision for John Knox House. It will bring new profile to the area as a showcase for Scotland’s culture, and as a hub for creatives and learners alike, locally, nationally and internationally.”

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the City of Edinburgh Council, the Architectural Heritage Fund and Edinburgh World Heritage.

-Ends-

Notes to Editor

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is the development agency for Edinburgh as a UNESCO City of Literature. It works to bring literature to the streets of Edinburgh, involving people in the city’s literary life, bringing organisations to work together collaboratively for greater impact, and sharing Edinburgh’s literary story with the world.

The Tender Process

RIAS Consultancy (The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) facilitated the tender process for The Trust. Members of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust’s staff and Board as well as Ásta Ásbjörnsdóttir, General Manager, John Knox House and Scottish Storytelling Centre formed the panel and were delighted by the calibre of the applicants. They were hugely impressed with the range, detail and beauty of the architects’ work but were unanimous in their decision that Witherford Watson Mann best met with the strategic brief of the project and demonstrated the most thorough understanding of the Trust’s vision for the future. Witherford Watson Mann was one of the outstanding practices, out of 18 who submitted examples of their work, invited to present to the panel alongside Carmody Groarke Architects, Page and Park, Benjamin Tindall Associates and Collective Architecture.

A London-based practice established over twenty years ago, Witherford Watson Mann Architects design to make the most of what is already there. They distil the complexities of contemporary collectives, of urban sites and public processes into durable, economical solutions that remain open to future change. In 2013 they won the RIBA Stirling Prize for their work at Astley Castle and in 2019 won the People’s Vote for the Prize for their work at Nevill Holt Opera. The prize recognises those who have made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year. They are currently designing for higher education, for small businesses, and for older people.

Based in Edinburgh, Groves-Raines Architects Studios are dedicated to the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings. Established in 1972, the practice has been at the forefront of conservation in Scotland and Ireland for over 40 years, with a broad portfolio of exceptional, award-winning projects including Lamb’s House, Sumburgh Head Lighthouse and Kyle House. The team’s specialist skills in conservation planning and affinity for historic fabric to ensure that their interventions are based on a deep understanding that allows the seamless integration of the old and the new.

Founded in Edinburgh in 2004, Studio MB is a multi-award winning exhibition and interpretative design agency. They design and deliver immersive visitor experiences and stand out exhibitions for museums, heritageattractions and leading global brands the length of the UK, as well as internationally in the Middle East and India.

UNESCO City of Literature Designation – https://en.unesco.org/creative-cities/home

In 2004 Edinburgh was designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, a permanent title celebrating Edinburgh’s status as a literary capital and pioneer in the UNESCO Creative Cities network, which now has 246 member cities in seven creative artforms across the globe. The concept of a City of Literature was devised in Edinburgh by the Trust’s founding members and there are now 39 UNESCO Cities of Literature in the world.

We see the Literature House as being the home of Edinburgh’s literary story, providing a year-round welcome with information, ideas and inspiration to help individuals connect with Edinburgh as a literary city, and Scotland as a literary nation. This is the place to discover Scotland’s literary heritage and contemporary creativity, and learn more about our incredible books, storytellers, and writers.

With Thanks to our Funders, Donors and Partners

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the City of Edinburgh Council, and thanks the donors and partners who make our work possible. The Literature House project is led by Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust in partnership with the Scottish Storytelling Centre and TRACS. It is supported by the City of Edinburgh Council, the Church of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, The Saltire Society, Scottish Book Trust and The List.

For further information please contact: Frances Sutton, Garron Communications francessutton@garroncommunications.com or 07841 579481

December 18, 2020

Tenders invited for cultural development of 15th century John Knox House

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is calling today (25 September 2020) for architects and designers to bring their expertise and creativity and enter a competitive tender process to work with the Trust to create a Literature House for Scotland at John Knox House in Edinburgh.

The development at John Knox House would be part of a wider ambition to enhance the Literary Quarter around the Netherbow area of the Royal Mile and invest in and develop the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Ali Bowden, Director of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said:

“We’re excited and pleased to be entering this next stage in our long-term cultural development plan for John Knox House and the Scottish Storytelling Centre. We’re looking for a really excellent and inspiring design team to work with, and people who understand how special the location is and how important these buildings are to Edinburgh. Once the team is appointed, our priority will be to complete some feasibility work so that in 2021 we will be able to present detailed ideas for the future of John Knox House and the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Working together with the Church of Scotland (who own both buildings), the City of Edinburgh Council, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, and the local community, our hope is that we will transform the way Scotland understands its literary story by reinvigorating this magnificent and historic building and giving it a new purpose as Scotland’s first Literature House.”

The Church of Scotland’s Chief Officer, Dave Kendall, welcomed the next stage of the Literature House project and said:

“The proposal to create a Literature House for Scotland at John Knox House has great potential and we welcome the energy and vision which has brought the project to this stage. The production of a high-quality feasibility study is a critical step in ensuring that the project is set up for success and I am really looking forward to the next steps in the journey as the project moves forwards starting with the all-important preparatory phase.”

Dr Donald Smith Chief Executive of TRACS said:

“As the lead programme partner at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, TRACS is delighted to support the Literature House vision for John Knox House. It will bring new profile to the area as a showcase for Scotland’s culture, and as a hub for creatives and learners alike, locally, nationally and internationally.”

Cllr Donald Wilson, City of Edinburgh Council Culture and Communities Convener, said:

“We welcome this next step in this ambitious project to further develop this place to discover Edinburgh’s literary heritage and contemporary creativity, and learn more about our incredible storytellers, and writers.”

Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan, City of Edinburgh Council Culture and Communities Vice-Convener, added:

“In addition to the benefits for literature and a literary quarter in the city, looking to the future role of the historic John Knox House is a positive statement of cultural ambition and intent in these challenging times.”

Ruth Plowden, Chair of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said:

“The creation of Scotland’s first Literature House is a bold and fitting development for the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Our hope is that this new space will provide a home for our literary story, be a catalyst to develop the wider area, and offer a year-round welcome to everyone in the city.”

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is working with RIAS Consultancy to tender for a design team through public procurement. The notice for the Tender can be found at www.cityofliterature.com

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the City of Edinburgh Council, the Architectural Heritage Fund and Edinburgh World Heritage.

-Ends-

NOTES TO EDITOR

Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is the development agency for Edinburgh as a UNESCO City of Literature. It works to bring literature to the streets of Edinburgh, involving people in the city’s literary life, bringing organisations to work together collaboratively for greater impact, and sharing Edinburgh’s literary story with the world. cityofliterature.com @EdinCityofLit edinburgh@cityofliterature.com

UNESCO City of Literature Designation: In 2004 Edinburgh was designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, a permanent title celebrating Edinburgh’s status as a literary capital and pioneer in the UNESCO creative cities network, which now has 246 member cities in seven creative artforms. The concept of a City of Literature was devised in Edinburgh by the Trust’s founding members and there are now 39 UNESCO Cities of Literature in the world.

We see the Literature House as being the home of Edinburgh’s literary story, providing a year-round welcome with information, ideas and inspiration to help individuals connect with Edinburgh as a literary city, and Scotland as a literary nation. This is the place to discover Scotland’s literary heritage and contemporary creativity, and learn more about our incredible books, storytellers, and writers.

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the City of Edinburgh Council, and thanks the donors and partners who make our work possible. The Literature House project is led by Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust in partnership with the Scottish Storytelling Centre and TRACS. It is supported by the City of Edinburgh Council, the Church of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, The Saltire Society, Scottish Book Trust and The List.

For further information please contact: Frances Sutton, Garron Communications via francessutton@garroncommunications.com or 07841 579481

Reproduced from the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust press release.

September 25, 2020

Edinburgh City of Literature seeks new Trustees

Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is looking to appoint two to three enthusiastic new Board members with particular experience in one or more of the following: finance, large-scale building projects, community engagement, and human resources.

They want their Board and programme of work to have broad representation and welcome applications from across all communities.

Are you interested in being part of the leadership of the City of Literature and supporting the creation of a Literature House for Scotland in Edinburgh? Are you inspired by Edinburgh being the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, a pioneer in an international network of Creative Cities spanning the globe? Apply by 5pm on Friday 3 July 2020.

It is their aim for new appointees, once approved, to formally take up their post from September 2020, for a period of up to three years. The posts are not remunerated but some expenses are covered as per the Board Members’ Expenses Policy.

Their Trustee Information Pack contains information about the role, requirements and the application process. Please download this pack here or contact edinburgh@cityofliterature.com.  For information about the Trust and the Board please visit the Board section of their website.

 

June 16, 2020