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Edinburgh's Golden Turd

The Edinburgh skyline will soon have a most unwelcome addition, nicknamed the Golden Turd. You may not have heard of this yet but if you visit Edinburgh after it's built you won't be able to miss it. Unfortunately.

What Is The Golden Turd?

'Golden Turd' is the popular local nickname for a new building which will be part of the planned redevelopment of the existing St James Centre at the east end of Princes Street. The building - officially named the W Hotel - has been designed by London architects Jestico & Whiles in conjunction with Allan Murray Architects. It will be the the centrepiece of the new Edinburgh St James development by THH Real Estate.

According to J&W the design is intended to resemble coiled ribbons or spirals of paper. Most people I know who look at pictures see a giant turd.

Now I'd be the first to admit that the existing St James Centre is an eyesore, but at least it's one that doesn't impose itself on your senses from a distance. What makes the golden turd design so bad is its massive scale - at 106m it will dominate the skyline of the New Town. And just to make sure there's no chance of you unseeing it the spirals will be a gaudy gold colour.

According to J&W the W Hotel "will be sympathetic to the surrounding World Heritage site and its history". I'm one of many who considers that statement to be a bad joke.

This is one of a number of recent cases where inappropriate architectural design has been allowed to impinge on the character of the city. If this trend continues we may lose our World Heritage status. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) - an advisory body to Unesco - said of the W Hotel design that it "has a scale and appearance that is not consistent with the surrounding built form" and that "If and when constructed, the hotel will be an intrusive element which will adversely impact on the visual integrity of the world heritage site." (Source: Edinburgh Evening News).

Unfortunately the design has been approved by the council so we're probably stuck with it.


This page last updated: 12-10-2016