For some time now I've been watching the plans for redevelopment at Haymarket
with some interest. Back when the proposals were originally announced I was living in the neighbourhood, and - while I spent two of the intervening years living in Stockbridge - I've always been fond of the area and felt it deserved a bit of care and polish. Since moving back to this neck of the woods a couple of years ago I've kept an occasional eye out for developments, in amongst watching the (interminable) Tram project of course.
Picking Hamish up from the station on Thursday I subconsciously noted new hoardings there with some fairly disappointing "artist impressions" on, and must have made a kind of mental note to look into it, since that's what I've been doing while Hame's at the book fair
he came down for.
Now to put this in context, for the past six years my mental image of what's coming when they finally give my local train station (and Scotland's fourth busiest) it's (desperately needed) overhaul has been loosely based on the visuals from Aedas' Haymarket Interchange outline proposal
*. Primarily this one:
Much as I was saying in my last post about the success of the old ERI site's redevelopment, I feel this suggestion shows the strongest, most successful mould for modern architecture in an ancient city like Edinburgh: framing the old with a light but bold touch of the new.
Imagine then the crushing disappointment I experienced viewing the utterly uninspired and flat designs Network Rail have chosen from IDP Architects
Where's the dialogue with its surroundings? Where's the integration of the old and new... above all where's the sodding design!? This lumpen box lurking behind the original station building has nothing to contribute to Haymarket's passengers or its surroundings beyond square footage. It looks as if the architects primary concern was that there weren't enough shadows for their building to hide in, and so they have put all their effort into making some.
Seeing the potentially missed opportunity here pains me - if this pathetic proposal from IDP is what gets built, then a chance to really enhance the western half of the city centre will be lost. I appreciate that Aedas' 2005 sketch is just a sketch, but I'm not the only one surprised to see such a poor job being done on the projected design. Last year rival firm Richard Murphy pitched a rival plan in the Architects Journal
, while in a spectacular act of diplomacy calling IDP's designs "unambitious".
I fervently hope that before work begins in ernest, Network Rail are brought to their senses and commission something more ambitious, and more fitting to be part of this city's inspiring architectural surroundings, than this limp, apologetic, soulless lump.
* interestingly the inspired Aedas visuals are still the ones being used on the project's site to illustrate the proposed redevelopment, which is somewhat worrying since they're not at all representative of what's actually being planned.