Edinburgh University students from the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Design have been thinking very hard about revitalising various parts of central Leith – mainly focussing in and around Leith Walk.
They had an all to brief exhibition on at Out of the Blue this week, which has now closed. But if you missed it we took a few snaps. And although this post by no means does the exhibition justice, instead all it can simply do is pick out some highlights.
The students’ ideas, whilst often somewhat ambitious, nevertheless show the scope that exists to improve parts of Leith with a bit of imagination and vision.
Broadly speaking the students focussed on four main ideas areas:
- The Kirkgate – and improving it as a route to the Shore
- The Old Goods Railway – running from Pilrig Park and over Leith Walk
- Behind the Walk – the area between Leith Walk and Easter Road
- The Tram Depot – the huge empty buildings along Leith Walk south of Manderston Street
Here is Links View House like you’ve never seen it before. The idea of cladding it in some more colourful is great in itself, but cutting a huge whole in the block to allow people to see through it… why not?
Behind the Walk
The big idea students came up with was a new ‘green route’ running between Easter Road and Leith Walk from Manderston Street up to Brunswick Street. Given the level of opposition from the city council Transport section to putting proper cycle lanes along Leith Walk, this idea might not seem so far out as you might think.
At the south end of this route the students have to find a way over the railway line that runs from Powderhall eastwards. The propose a pedestrian/cyclist bridge over the railway linking Albert Street with Alanfield.
At the north end of the route they also came up with some ideas to do pretty radical things to the housing along the North side of the Manderston street, which include Green roofs and atriums, and cutting big holes in the buildings…again.
The Tram Depot
And midway between these two areas, perhaps the most interesting, and dare we say, most easy to imagine actually happening, proposal is made for the disused tram depot.
The group looking at this area propose knocking down the various disused buildings behind the social work centre on Leith Walk, and replacing them with a public square, a covered market area, and various other civic buildings.
It looks good – and given that much of this proposal focusses on re-using publicly owned land should give council officers food for thought. What is happening to that mothballed £84million Tax Incremental Finance deal that the council was going to spend in Leith? Could it be spent making some of this happen?
Isn’t it refreshing to see a proposal for development in Edinburgh which isn’t based around 1 bedroom flats, supermarkets, 5 star hotels, or student accomodation? Of course, these types of development are seemingly all the private sector is interested in investing in, if there is any investment at all – so to build any of this stuff would require the public sector to take the lead.
The old goods railway
And this is the third group of architects we know of who have come up with a design for a new bridge over Leith Walk that links Pilrig Park with areas to the East. And their design is certainly the most radical as they’ve come up with a plan to build a pedestrian link all the way to Leith Links.
As well as building a bridge over Leith Walk, the plan seems to constitute a further suspension bridge over Manderston Street into the Tesco car park, cutting a huge hole through the tenements at Duke Street, and then dropping the path into the main door of the old, and listed, Leith Academy building.
Wholly unrealstic by almost anyones stretch of the imagination, but it looks pretty fine.
And of course it’s worth pointing out that Greener Leith first backed the idea of a green bridge over Leith Walk as long ago as 2008.
Of course this isn’t the first time the area has attracted interest from students. You may also wish to see this guest post from Heriot Watt student, and local resident, Michael Bryan, about his award winning proposals for the Shrubhill gap site that we published last year.
For a second take on the Edinburgh University exhibition you might also want to see the Edinburgh Eye blog too.
We hope to have some of the display boards from this latest exhibition, along with some other ideas for Leith, and a giant map of Leith walk, on display at our Vision for Leith Walk meeting planned for next Tuesday, June 5th, also at Out of the Blue.
If these ideas have inspired you, or if you think you can do better, we’d really appreciate it if you could come along to the meeting.
More details here, and in the flyer below.