The building that once housed
Donaldson’s School for the Deaf
is one of the most distinctive
structures in Edinburgh and was
designed in the 1840s by William Playfair,
one of the city’s foremost architects.
Said to have been influenced by
Elizabethan manor houses, the turreted
property is easily identifiable as it is set back
from West Coates, one of the main routes
into the city centre, behind a large lawn.
After a long and distinguished history,
the School decided to relocate in 2003,
vacating the site for a new purpose-built
property and selling the old building for
Two projects are now simultaneously
under way to convert the site into a highspec
residential development. The listed
former school building will remain the same
on the outside, while inside a full-scale
reconfiguration is being undertaken to
create 63 flats.
Under a separate contract, Cala Evans
Restoration and BAM Construction are
building a further 73 flats contained in a
curving three-storey terrace.
Arranged in an arc around the north
of the former school, the terrace is being
constructed in such a way that it is mostly
hidden from West Coates.
According to Richard Murphy Architects,
a combination of having the car park in an
excavated basement and taking advantage of
the natural sloping topography, the terrace
is virtually invisible when viewed across the
important southern vista.
Sat atop the basement car park, the
terraced flats are arranged over ground,
first, second and third floors. The lower
two floors (ground and first) consist of
single-level accommodation, but the second
floor offers split level mezzanines meaning
the apartments on this floor are effectively
arranged over three levels.
The uppermost floor has larger penthouse
flats that are set back to create private roof
terraces, which will give extensive views not
only of the Donaldsons’ turretted roofscape
but also to the north over the trees and
towards the sea.
The terrace is being constructed as a
steel-framed structure supported on pad
foundations with the perimeter columns
Reinventing a landmark
One of Edinburgh’s famous landmarks is currently being redeveloped into an
exclusive residential scheme with the addition of a steel-framed terrace of apartments.
Martin Cooper reports.
Cala Evans Restoration
Steel tonnage: 2,000t