RBGE LECTURE THEATRE
Location: Inverleith, Edinburgh
Client: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Programme: Completed 2013
The comprehensive conservation and refurbishment of this Category B listed Victorian lecture theatre involved the removal of a later suspended ceiling to expose the original roof structure and roof-top lantern. The new sloping timber ceiling introduces warmth and beauty and controls the acoustic characteristics of the room.
The height of the room and the automatic windows around the lantern allow ventilation to be entirely natural. Omitting mechanical ventilation made substantial savings on capital and running costs. Even at the height of the hot summer of 2013, the room remained comfortable when full to its capacity of more than 250.
The sophisticated audio-visual equipment, lighting controls and automatic blinds allow for flexible use while maintaining contact with the outside. Blue lighting at the windows and in the lantern enhances the room after dark and helps to improve concentration during evening lectures.
The mixed fabric colours of the seats add interest but will also help to disguise replacements. Hardwood writing desks from the existing seats were recycled to form the speaker’s lectern.
Many lecture theatres are anonymous black boxes. This one celebrates its garden setting and exploits the best aspects of its original design to create a unique and remarkable asset for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.