The Potterrow Development

University of Edinburgh
2003 - 2008

As the major component of the University of Edinburgh’s new masterplan for the George Square and Bristo Square area, the Potterrow Development replaces a windswept car park with a rich mix of buildings, courtyards and reinstated streetlines.

The new development’s first phase totals 16,000m2 for two principal users, the School of Informatics, and the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences. There is also a University Visitor Centre and an exhibition space.

The scheme provides for a second phase that will complete the streetlines and massing of two primary volumes, each planned around an atrium, and facing each other across a shared courtyard. From the inside, the buildings are rational and simple; from the outside they appear more complex and responsive to their surroundings.

Much of the accommodation is cellular so the floorplates have been laid out to ensure that circulation routes engage with a variety of viewing points, open-plan break-out spaces and double-height volumes.

Construction reflects the simplicity of the plan, with a low energy strategy based on exposed concrete slabs and air supplied from the floor supplemented by opening windows.

“We are finally together under one roof. We live, work and play in the best building in Scotland, a fitting home for the UK’s leading community of researchers in Computer Science and Informatics.”

Mike Fourman
Head of Informatics University of Edinburgh



Project Information

  • Client
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Area
  • 16,000 m²
  • Design and Build Contractor
  • Balfour Beatty
  • Structural and Services Engineer
  • Buro Happold
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Turner & Townsend


  • 2010
  • Civic Trust Awards – Winner
  • 2009
  • Scottish Design Awards – Winner, Public Building category
  • 2009
  • Scottish Design Awards – Chairman’s Award for Architecture
  • 2009
  • BCO Awards – National Corporate Workplace Award
  • 2009
  • RICS Awards – Project of the Year
  • 2009
  • RICS Awards – Winner, Sustainability category
  • 2009
  • RIBA Award – RIBA Award
  • 2008
  • RIAS Andrew Doolan Prize – Best Building in Scotland