In 2017, the British firm Page \ Park Architects unveiled its restoration of Edinburgh’s St. Cecilia’s Hall. The approximately 15,000 square-foot project consisted of the restoration of the neglected concert hall, bringing the complex up to contemporary-building standards, and designing substantial modern additions to Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall such as a four-story entrance building.
The lead architects for the project were Eilidh Henderson, David Page, Paul Sutton, and Nicola Walls.
St. Cecilia’s Concert Hall is located on Edinburgh’s Cowgate, the lowest topographical point within the city’s Old Town Unesco World Heritage Site. Surrounded by taller 19th-century Georgian tenements, Page \ Park’s design had to simultaneously blend in with its surroundings while capturing scant sunlight in the area.
Externally, the boldest design feature is the stainless-bronze eastern elevation. At ground level, the bronze curtain is patterned to resemble the decorative soundboard of St. Cecilia’s Hall’s 1725 Francis Coston double-manual harpsichord. While diverging from the predominantly stone and lime wash character of the area, the stainless steel cladding panels match the massing and rhythm of adjacent window openings. Protruding from the roofline is a bronze stainless steel-clad addition with an undulating gable reminiscent of Victorian flourishes found on Edinburgh’s adjacent High Street. A sweeping concave window is cantilevered from this rooftop addition, peeking North towards the elevated ground of High Street.
The four-story entrance hall is placed directly behind the stainless steel-patterned screen, the point of entry being a double height reception area serving as a circulation core.
Conservation work included a full program of external fabric repair works, the refurbishment of St. Cecilia’s Hall’s preexisting gallery spaces, and a substantial renovation of the elliptical concert hall. The insertion of glazed openings allows visitors and users glimpses of galleries and open spaces throughout the complex.
In 2018, Page \ Park Architects received the Regeneration & Conservation Award from the Edinburgh Architectural Association, the RICS Building Conservation Award and an RIAS Award for the project.