ECCI celebrates major building milestone

25 July 2012

ECCI today celebrated a major milestone in the construction of the Centre's new building at High School Yards by inviting a selection of donors, partners, contributors and collaborators on site to look at the progress.

Contractor GRAHAM Construction has just started erecting the innovative timber frame of the 2333 square metre building being created on the site of Edinburgh’s historic Old High School in High School Yards, which counts famous figures such as Sir Walter Scott among its former pupils.

The project involves refurbishing and remodelling the space to deliver a cutting-edge innovation suite, lecture theatres, seminar rooms and exhibition and social areas.

An innovative approach to design and construction could also see the ECCI become the first refurbished building in the world to achieve the industry sustainability BREEAM standard of Outstanding.

In making their designation decisions, BREEAM considers elements such as waste, pollution, land use and ecology, materials, management, health & wellbeing, energy, transport, water and an imaginative approach.
Features such as using harvested rainwater for use in the flushing of WCs, solar controlled glazing in the windows to keep occupants cool and remove the need for air conditioning and underfloor heating will all contribute to a 30% saving in energy consumption over the building’s former performance.

GRAHAM Construction regional director Neil McFarlane said:

“The challenge of creating a building which could be the only one of its kind in the world is daunting, but one we are relishing being a part of.

“We have completed the demolition of the old and obsolete parts of the building while retaining the historic facade.

“Now that the timber frame is going up, we can really see the fabric of the new building start to take shape and we look forward to delivering on the ECCI’s vision of a unique facility which actively encourages collaboration among its occupants.”

As well as GRAHAM, the team behind the project include award-winning architects Malcolm Fraser Architects and mechanical and electrical consulting engineers Harley Haddow.

Lead Architect Malcolm Fraser said: “The ECCI project has been designed to an exceptionally high level of sustainability; we are aiming to achieve a minimum of BREEAM Excellent with an aspiration to achieve BREEAM Outstanding.

If achieved this would be the first refurbishment project in the UK to achieve this – which will provide a groundbreaking exemplar of how our current building stock can be adapted to reduce our energy demands and carbon emissions in the future."

The ECCI is expected to be completed and opened in summer 2013.

ECCI Executive Director Andy Kerr said: “It gives me real pleasure and a tremendous sense of achievement to see the High School Yards building and ECCI reach this latest milestone.

Since I took charge nearly 2 years ago ECCI has grown from a really good idea into a burgeoning organisation with a team of 13. We’ve worked with businesses, governments, academics, students and communities from all over the world and are well on our way to delivering our ambitious plans.

This highly innovative, low carbon approach to the refurbishment of High School Yards is symbolic of all the work that ECCI has already been doing and we are really looking forward to moving into our famous and historic new home to continue that good work next year.”

Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University, said, "This is an exciting development underpinning an equally exciting partnership between our institutions, producing key solutions to the challenges of living in a low carbon environment.

"This partnership builds on the work our universities are already undertaking in this and related areas, and I am delighted to join collegues in celebrating a building which will truly tie in with the ideals the ECCI is here to promote."