The Quaich Project

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Our vision is to develop a unique, world-class garden space full of nature and tranquillity set against the backdrop of Edinburgh’s vibrant and dynamic city life. We are dedicated to creating a ‘space for all’ – where people can come together, memories can be made, and friendships can be forged.

The Quaich Project will create new, accessible and inclusive, gardens and connections between Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, encouraging daily use by the local residents all year round as well as providing new pathways for exploration to visitors.


From seven shortlisted designs, the concept from wHY was unanimously selected as the winner of the international competition.

They propose an organic landscape-focused scheme that respects the historic setting but also animates the gardens through the introduction of a new undulating promenade, sculptural seating and dynamic open views. Led by wHY, the winning submission was a collaboration of the following specialists; GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten and Lawrence Barth with Alan Cumming, Aaron Hicklin, Beatrice Colin, Peter Ross, Alison Watson and Adrian Turpin.

Here’s how wHY summed-up their design concept, entitled Butterfly Pavilllion:

The word ‘pavilion’, from the Old French for butterfly (papillion), parsed through the pictogram of a highly-decorated tent, evokes the fluttering canvas and heraldry of a field campaign with a glorious connection between nature and humankind.

The butterfly is unity of symmetry and organic form, whose lines can be traced and followed, eagerly denoting meaning. Occasionally alighting, it is of the air but connects with the ground. It delights and draws you in.

And so it is with this new ‘pavilion’. Pleasure will be drawn from rock and fold, from seam and segue. There are glimpses of history and the promise of a performance. People will connect through their common story and shared song. There is music in the air.Light, space, sound, and poetry. Castle, rock, garden, and fountain. Without nature, the city is lifeless.

This is a place for people and their perpetual delight.



A Space for


The ‘new pavilion’ will be a contemporary replacement of the Ross Bandstand, aiming to bring fun and joy of community back into West Princes Street Gardens. The new pavilion will create a functional space for community activities and events, allowing for courses and play without disruption to the wider gardens.


The design of the pavilion is also equipped to accommodate a limited number of larger events within the gardens, such as the Edinburgh International Festival’s closing fireworks and Hogmanay. It provides the focal point for a unified City-wide entertainment and exhibition offer with minimal disruption to visitors at the gardens.

Welcome Centre

While the new pavilion acts as the heart of the Quaich Project, the Welcome Centre functions as the entry to it. The Welcome Centre will house the garden’s cafeteria, accessible entry into the garden via lifts, and provide further spaces for community events.

Due to the unique placement of the Welcome Centre, linking Princes Street and the gardens, the facility will be able to offer much improved access with consideration to accessibility and amenities. With improved footpaths and creative infrastructure, the Welcome Centre will be a space enjoyed by all.


With plans to build the Welcome Centre directly into the shape of the land the structure will be able to coexist within the gardens, taking minimal space as to provide more enjoyment of the natural land. Visitors to the gardens will be able to access the roof, providing stunning views of the new Pavilion and Edinburgh Castle in the backdrop.

Family Area

The Family Area will define the area of land west of the Ross Fountain, stretching between the children’s playpark and the gates of St. Cuthbert’s Church.

The Family Area will be a space for outdoor community engagement, performance, and relaxation.


Providing a fantastic view of Castle Rock, the Ross Fountain, and down the Garden Path, the Family Area will act as a garden square that connects visual elements of the gardens into one vantage point for the community to enjoy.

The Fountain

The Ross Fountain is without question one of the most iconic landmarks in Edinburgh’s rich landscape and has stood proudly for 145 years. Having been without water for several years, the Ross Fountain has been restored to its original Victorian beauty.

With its location nestled under Edinburgh Castle, the Ross Fountain is fast becoming a place for people to meet and contemplate the beauty of this magnificent feature.  Through modern, sensitive, lighting techniques the fountain now comes to life after dark, so it can be enjoyed by all through the winter months.  Thanks to funding from public bodies and private individuals, the whole conservation project process, which cost around £2m, was completed on schedule following 40,000 working hours to restore it and 650 litres of paint to bring it back to its former glory.


There are currently three shelters at the east end of the top path within West Princes Street Gardens.  The Quaich Project aims to improve the interior of these shelters and present them to the community as activity and showcase spaces.

It is anticipated that one of the newly created spaces will be used to display plans for garden improvement and planning. The City of Edinburgh Council, in partnership with the Ross Development Trust, would promote this area as an opportunity for the community to share their thoughts on The Quaich Project.