EAST GATE CAFE CONSERVATION
Location: Inverleith, Edinburgh
Client: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Programme: Completed 2010
This charming B-listed lodge house at the entrance to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was designed by William Playfair but had long been concealed behind a high hedge and used for staff accommodation. The refurbishment of it has brought it into public use for the first time, and it now accommodates the public reception, toilets and a small café.
Works involved the complete conservation of the external envelope. Earlier cement pointing was removed and replaced with a specially mixed lime mortar matched to a sample of the original. Damaged stones and missing stone window mullions were reinstated. The two new openings formed reproduce the elaborate stone details of the originals. All the existing PVC replacement windows were replaced by timber sash and case.
Internally, our approach was to contrast the contemporary counter and fittings with the traditional style of the room. The café is used almost exclusively during the day and relies on drawing in passers-by from outside. We maximised its visibility by using a dark counter and bold graphics against a pale floor and walls.
Outside, new paving and planting has provided a seating terrace and integrated the lodge into its garden setting. The café is very popular with visitors and is a vibrant addition to the gardens.