The Calton Hill City Observatory

Location Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Services Building services engineering and sustainable design
Sector Lifestyle
Client Faithful and Gould
Architect Collective Architecture
Imagery ©Susie Lowe

Tony Centola

T +44 (0)131 524 3500

Cundall designed the servicing strategy for the refurbishment of one of Edinburgh’s most prominent landmarks, The City Observatory, on Calton Hill. For the first time in 240 years the site is fully accessible and open to all.


After a four year period of restoration, the Observatory, which had been left to degrade since the late 20th century, has been refreshed and open again for visitors. The site consists of the restored City Observatory, the City Dome with Transit House and newly built exhibition space. The Hillside, restaurant, and welcome kiosk have been built at the East Gate.

The restaurant is cantilevered over the north east corner of the boundary wall to maximise available views. As a counter balance to this, the new gallery is excavated into the basalt mound to the north of the Observatory.

The £4.5m redevelopment is the result of a partnership between Collective and The City of Edinburgh Council. Funders include City of Edinburgh Council, Creative Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Edinburgh World Heritage, William Grant Foundation, WREN, The Wolfson Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Sylvia Waddilove Foundation UK, Pilgrim Trust, Architectural Heritage Fund, Hope Scott Trust, Idlewild Trust, Craignish Trust and many more. It is proof that collaborative working and project team co-operation can provide truly stunning results.

We worked closely with the project team to understand and incorporate requirements from funders into our design. We carried out a fabric first approach to deliver buildings that would remain comfortable under all conditions, whilst using as low amounts of energy as possible.

Donald Wilson, City of Edinburgh Council's culture and communities convener, said: "Gazing over the city from the top of Calton Hill, the city observatory has played an important role in Edinburgh life for hundreds of years.” – “Now it is set to become one of the most unique 'must visit' destinations in all of the city”. -"It is surely one of the most significant conservation projects to take place in Edinburgh in recent times."

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Established in the UK 40 years ago, Cundall has developed into an international multi-disciplinary consultancy operating from over 20 locations across the globe.