Sutherland Hussey Harris

Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop: Creative Labs

Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop offers a base for artists providing low cost studios, exhibition space and workshops.

The new sculpture centre sits perched on the south side of Hawthornvale and straddles the embankment of a disused railway cutting. This building consists of 30 artists studios, large workshops for wood, metal, plaster and mixed media gathered around a covered external yard.

The workshops are located at ground level, within the cutting, for discreet and easy servicing and keeping the more industrial activities away from the residential street. These workshops open out onto the yard, a covered external workspace wrapped in galvanized steel screens which provides glimpses out to the cycle path whilst obliquely screening the facilities. Robust, flexible and economical industrial construction methods were employed to allow the internal spaces to be adapted to suit the future needs of the building users.

Twelve external sculpture bays divided by elegant concrete piers flank two sides of a sunken courtyard inspired by the Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto, with a public cafe and the laboratories themselves forming the remaining two sides.

The construction method and materials reflect the function of Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. The building celebrates a working establishment; a factory for the production and development of sculpture.

The primary structure is in-situ concrete; the bays of the concrete frame forming a cloister around the perimeter of the external space. The bays provide a basic infrastructure that can be used flexibly by ESW as temporary working spaces, areas for storage or exhibition, or to build more permanent internal studios at a later date.

The continuous gently folded roof is clad with bricks, an extension of the plinth from the first phase. This brick surface folds around the outside of the inner frame forming the external skin to the new building. The stepped public route through the site is also surfaced with the same material.

Openings in the brick and concrete structure are treated simply, using steel grids and gates that offer a semi translucent view into the internal spaces.

Images © Keith Hunter & Col.