Images released today of the proposed new design for the Dunard Centre supported by Royal Bank of Scotland, reveal an opportunity to make an inspiring contribution to the city’s cultural rebuild.

One of the boldest ventures in the city’s recent past, Edinburgh’s first purpose-built music and performance venue in over one hundred years will rival the best in the world in acoustic quality and audience experience, bringing together architect Sir David Chipperfield, recognised throughout the world for high quality architecture in sensitive heritage sites and leading acousticians Nagata Acoustics, established international authorities in the field of concert hall design. 

As the cultural flagship for the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, the Dunard Centre will fill a recognised gap in the region’s cultural infrastructure and provide a platform for local, national and international musicians to perform to audiences in the very best environment.

The 1000 capacity hall is designed with the flexibility to welcome the widest possible range of acoustic and amplified music and performance to a mid-sized venue. The simple elegance of the exterior reflects the surrounding neoclassical design of the Edinburgh New Town and opens up an undiscovered area of the city centre, linking the St James Quarter, St Andrew Square and the Register Lanes and contributing to the regeneration of the area. 

IMPACT Scotland’s Co-Chairs Fergus Linehan and Gavin Reid commented:

Fergus Linehan: “We are delighted to unveil the stunning design for the Dunard Centre which will be a truly transformational venue in the heart of Edinburgh.  

“The restrictions throughout the pandemic have highlighted the enormous contribution participating in the performing arts, whether as an audience member or a performer, makes to our wellbeing. It is a great honour to be leading a project which will make such a positive and inspiring contribution to the city’s cultural rebuild.” 

Gavin Reid: “As well as being a creative hub hosting music and educational experiences of all kinds, the Dunard Centre will reach out beyond its own walls to be an inspirational springboard for outreach work across the city and beyond.

Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal partners:

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said:

"The Dunard Centre is an exciting prospect for Edinburgh's cultural landscape. 

"These designs show the great potential for a new, dynamic creative space in the heart of the city.

"The UK Government is investing £10 million in this project as part of it's £1.5 billion commitment to Region Deals across Scotland, helping communities everywhere to build back better from the pandemic."

City of Edinburgh Council Leader Adam McVey said: 

“The Dunard Centre is an exciting and important new cultural venue for our Capital. This is the first purpose-built concert venue in Edinburgh in more than 100 years which will expand Edinburgh’s landscape for enjoying music and the arts.  It is in a prime central and sustainable location, with fantastic public transport connections and will complement the wider transformation of the east end of the city centre alongside the opening of the Edinburgh St James Quarter- ensuring that our City centre remains a vibrant and thriving destination.”

Malcolm Buchanan, chair, Scotland Board, Royal Bank of Scotland, said:

“The Dunard Centre is an exciting proposition that will enrich the city’s education, music and arts communities and one that we are proud to be part of.

“Royal Bank of Scotland has supported Scotland’s arts sectors throughout its 300-year history, three centuries which have cemented Edinburgh and the country’s position as a capital for global culture.

“The Dunard Centre will play a role in continuing that tradition and create further opportunity for another generation of artists and performers.”

Sir David Chipperfield said:

 “Tucked behind Dundas House and on axis with George Street, the Dunard Centre occupies a strategic site linking the formal qualities of St. Andrew Square and the New Town with the more intimate atmosphere of lanes around Register House towards the new St. James Quarter. The identity of the building is determined by its circular form, contributing to the silhouette of the city and enclosing a 1,000-seat hall. This flexible world-class facility is designed to adapt to a wide-ranging programme of performances and cultural activities, ensuring it will serve as a meaningful new addition to the life and fabric of Edinburgh.”

The redesigned building will house:

⦁    1000 capacity auditorium with the capacity for live streaming, digital capture and broadcasting  
⦁    flexible multi-purpose rooms for education, conferencing and hospitality
⦁    foyer with informal opportunity for performance
⦁    café/bar with indoor and outdoor seating

The space has been skilfully re-imagined to create a world-class auditorium of exceptional acoustic quality in the heart of the city, retaining the 1000 capacity, while reducing the size of the proposed building.

The budget for the project remains at £75 million, with two-thirds of this being met by private philanthropy and fundraising.  £35 million is being donated by Dunard Fund, and a fundraising campaign for a further £15 million has already received significant pledges. As part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal the UK and Scottish Governments are each providing £10 million, and City of Edinburgh Council £5 million. 

A variation to the planning application is being submitted this week. If planning permission is granted, construction will begin in 2022, with an estimated build length of 3 years.



1.    Images are available for download here Impact Media Resources | Impact Scotland
2.    The design team is led by David Chipperfield Architects in collaboration with Reiach & Hall Architects and Nagata Acoustics as acoustic consultants.
3.    A full presentation of the proposal for Dunard Centre is available here