Edinburgh – An Architectural Paradise

In ART & FASHION, Commentary, HOME by Sam Prance

The wind whipping exposed skin. Icy air slashing cheeks. Sore and cracking lips. Welcome to Edinburgh.

Choosing Edinburgh as a university was perhaps not the wisest decision. My tolerance to cold weather isn’t exactly great. That being said the city has far more to offer than it’s temperature. Firstly, the people – they’re fabulous  – and secondly the architecture. Walking round one is blown away not just by the weather – oh dear – but the beauty of the city. Through studying History of Architecture this year, I have discovered more about the buildings which surround me daily.

One of my favourite places to visit is the student union, Teviot. Teviot is the oldest purpose built student union in the U.K. It was built in a 16th Century Scots Palace style – think Gothic windows, grey stone, general amazingness – and the coped crow-stepped and pinnacle gables form a profile of sharp points against the skyline. This makes it rather pretty. If I’m honest, it looks a bit like Hogwarts – but who wouldn’t want to drink coffee and the occasional alcoholic beverage in a building which looks like Hogwarts? Perhaps Voldemort…but I digress.

University_of_Edinburgh,_TeviotAnother building which makes me feel very privileged to be a part of Edinburgh University is the Old College. It actually used to be called New College but there’ll be more on that later. Anyway the Old College (or the college formerly known as New College) was built in 1707 – which for you history buffs out there was the year of the unification of Scotland and England. Was it a stonking big symbol of the union? Of course. The founding of Great Britain deserves a few beautiful buildings – does it not?

Now for some architectural geekery: Robert Adam designed the building. However, after Adam’s death the Napoleonic Wars broke out and the imposition of income tax slowed – so, as you can imagine, building kind of ground to a halt. However, when things were a bit more chilled in 1817, building work recommenced and William Henry Playfair was appointed head architect. Playfair’s designs combined the two courts of Adam’s layout into one large single quadrangle and the edifice was soon finished. Ta-dah. If you ever get the chance to visit it – I strongly recommend using it as a strutting ground. It is worthy of such walking.

Old College QuadAs aforementioned, the Old College was originally referred to as the New College. This changed in 1846 when a new college was built and the powers that be decided that the new college really ought to be called New College. Said college can be found on Edinburgh’s mound – yes Edinburgh has a mound – and it overlooks Princes Street and the National Gallery of Scotland, which is rather nice. When its doors first opened it was the Free Church of Scotland but from the 1930s it became the home of the School of Divinity. It is, probably, the 16th most beautiful place to work in the world.

681x454So there we have it – three beautiful buildings in Edinburgh – and that’s just the university. Wherever you live, take a moment to appreciate the architecture around you. Art is often closer to you than you think. Time to go work *cough – eat pizza* in Teviot.

Lucy Nash

Lucy Nash is, as you may have guessed, a student at Edinburgh University. She studies Spanish and Italian. Lucy enjoys creating art and counts a childhood witch costume as one of the best outfits of her life. As part of her year abroad next year she intends to travel to Mexico and, if all else fails, work with the infamous peace-making gang Los Zetas.

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