Founded in the 17th Century in St Anne’s Yard, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a beautiful scientific institution, dedicated to the biology, conservation and evolution of plants.
RBGE now extends to four sites – Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan – and is currently undergoing a number of refurbishments to update and improve facilities.
All four gardens are major tourist attractions in Scotland, offering visitors an inspiring and relaxing space and the work being conducted is helping to enhance these attractions. Work on the Nursery and the Botanic Cottage at Edinburgh achieved planning approval in August, whilst the North-East Corner Masterplan is in the pre-planning stages. The Dawyck Botanic Garden and Logan Botanic Garden projects are currently out to tender.
Keen to find out what is happening at RGBE, Premier Construction caught up with Capital Projects Manager, Gerry Gallagher, to discover why the work is being conducted.
“The aim of these projects is to update the gardens. We have a large amount of existing infrastructure which is reaching the end of its life and whilst undertaking these improves we are implementing a number of innovative ideas to modernise systems.
“The work is being conducted in phases, so the gardens remain accessible throughout the works.”
At present, work has been completed on the refurbishment of Alpine House and the Lecture Theatre in Edinburgh. Alpine House has been redesigned to enhance the site’s alpine display, whilst the Lecture Theatre has benefited from new technology and seating and the removal of an obtrusive ceiling.
Cornhill Building Services was the main contractor on the refurbishment of the Lecture Theatre, whilst Climate Controls Ltd was involved with the superstructure on Alpine House.
“The objective of the Alpine refurbishment was to create a more realistic display for the alpine. The new Alpine House comprises a tufa rock formation recycled from a road building project in Bavaria, with the alpine planted within the holes and cracks in the rocks, so that it grows in a vertical formation. There are also loose rocks around the outside, which are more in keeping with the alpine’s natural environment.
“The main aim was to create a more naturalistic view of the plants, taking them out of the pots that they were previously displayed in.”
“Last refurbished in the 1970s, the original Lecture Theatre had become quite dated by today’s standards and included a low false ceiling, which caused problems with ventilation and heating. The theatre was no longer performing in the way it should and it was simply inefficient. The objective of this project was to return the theatre to its natural state with better ventilation, by removing the low ceiling to open up the original space.”
Additional work at the Lecture Theatre has included the installation of new seating along with new IT infrastructure with HD display capabilities. An Automated control system for lighting and heating has also been installed within the theatre.
All of the work being conducted on the projects is helping to develop the gardens into workable, enjoyable and educational spaces which will see RBGE continue to conduct important research in the botanical field.
“The Lecture Theatre is an important education facility and is predominately here for students coming to the gardens. The work has now given us a modern facility which we can also offer out to the commercial sector, which in turn can help the garden generate an income.
“The Alpine House meanwhile has benefited from a more naturalistic and visually appealing reworking. All of this work is very important to RBGE.”
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action in more than 80 countries around the world. In Scotland the RBGE’s four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Logan and Dawyck attract nearly a million visitors each year.
RBGE operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. RBGE is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers and its mission is to explore and explain the world of plants for a better future.
For more information about the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, please visit: www.rbge.org.uk.