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Castle Terrace Car Park including external concrete steps and painted steel railings, Castle Terrace and King's Stables Road, Edinburgh

A Category B Listed Building in City Centre, Edinburgh

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.948 / 55°56'52"N

Longitude: -3.2033 / 3°12'11"W

OS Eastings: 324948

OS Northings: 673424

OS Grid: NT249734

Mapcode National: GBR 8LH.M9

Mapcode Global: WH6SL.RRSL

Entry Name: Castle Terrace Car Park including external concrete steps and painted steel railings, Castle Terrace and King's Stables Road, Edinburgh

Listing Date: 22 October 2019

Last Amended: 28 October 2019

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407184

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52510

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Town: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: City Centre

Traditional County: Midlothian

Description

Castle Terrace Car Park is a large, open-deck, modern multi-storey car park, combining traditional materials with a functional exposed concrete form. Designed and built between 1959 and 1966 by Edinburgh's City Engineers, Kinnear & Gordon (consulting engineers) and T. Waller Marwick & Associates (consulting architects), it was commissioned by the Edinburgh Corporation. Located at the western foot of Edinburgh Castle Rock, the car park is set on a sloped embankment between Castle Terrace and King's Stables Road. Oblong in plan with semi-circular ends, it comprises five decks, which are arranged as two elongated spiralled ramps open to the King's Stables Road elevation. Built of in-situ concrete, parts of the exterior are faced in snecked rubble. It is currently in use as a public car park and has capacity for around 800 cars.

The two continuous ramped spirals are gently sloped and have parking spaces along their full length. The ribbed concrete deck slabs are carried on regularly spaced squared columns and are edged by concrete safety upstands and painted steel railings. The two ramps are interconnected in the centre of the structure, at each level. The excavated bottom deck sits below street level on King's Stables Road, with three suspended decks above. There is an additional suspended deck over the eastern half of the top deck. This accommodates changes between the street levels and allows the top deck to merge with the pavement of Castle Terrace.

The main (northeast) elevation on King's Stables Road has two rectangular car entrance portals at the curved outer corners and a pedestrian entrance portal to the centre. The openings and the lower walls are faced with snecked rubble of Springwell stone and have ashlar copes and surrounds in Doddington stone. The two side elevations (northwest and southeast) are curved and have external concrete steps wrapping around each elevation, linking Castle Terrace to King's Stables Road. The southwest elevation is entirely concealed by the embankment.

The open interior of the car park is largely of exposed concrete. There are three stairwells with open spiral staircases that link the five decks of the car park: a circular stairwell in the centre of the car park by the pavement at Castle Terrace and two semi-circular stairwells at the northwest and southeast ends. The staircases are concrete with painted steel railings. There are toilets at the south-eastern side of the decks on the ground and first floors.

On Castle Terrace the car park is flanked by snecked rubble piers with ashlar coping.

Statement of Interest

Castle Terrace Car Park meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

Historical development

Located on the site of the former Grindlay Estate, Castle Terrace was formed in 1831. The street was laid out with feuing plots on the southwest side and an embankment on the northeast side that sloped down to King's Stables Road at the foot of the Castle Rock. The embankment was laid out as gardens from the mid-to-late 19th century.

During the 1950s, rapid increase in car ownership led to the consideration of the parking problem in central Edinburgh and a number of proposals for large off-street car parks. The schemes proposed included: parking on the roof of Waverly Market (later replaced by the Princess Mall), double-deck car parks in Queen Street Gardens and parking in the lower levels of the East Princes Street Gardens. These proposed locations and schemes were the subject of great controversy and none of the car parks were constructed (Edinburgh in the 1950s, p.26). The site of Castle Terrace Gardens was eventually chosen for the first multi-storey car park in Edinburgh and the design was selected around 1959-1960 (Brown, p. 204).

Drawings were submitted to City of Edinburgh Council, Dean of Guild in 1961 and work began on the site in the same year. During excavations of the site at Castle Terrace Gardens however, problems were found with the ground conditions which led to delays in construction. Plans in the Dean of Guild Archive show how the design was reconsidered in light of these difficulties (City of Edinburgh Council Archive). Plans from 1962 show alterations to the circular end of the car park as well as the addition of pile capping to the ground floor columns.

The partially completed car park was opened around 1964 and the building finished around 1966. The completed car park first appears on the Ordnance Survey 1:1250 map, (revised 1967, published 1968).

Castle Terrace Car Park has remained in use as a car park since its construction and is currently leased from the City of Edinburgh Council by National Car Parks Limited (NCP) (2019).

Architectural interest

Design

The design of Castle Terrace Car Park was both innovative and unusual for the building type in this period. The parking decks of Castle Terrace Car Park are designed as continuous-spiral ramps with cars parking spaces on gradient flanking a central roadway. When this plan form was selected around 1959, no other car park of this type had been built in Britain. At the same time, the form and materials of Caste Terrace car park, also set it apart from other multi-storey car parks of the early 1960s. Whereas the majority of car parks of this period were dominant modern interventions in large sections of the streetscape, Castle Terrace car park was uniquely sensitive to its historic setting, designed to integrate with its surroundings and to be largely invisible from key viewpoints, in particular, from Edinburgh Castle.

By the early 1960s, it was realised that the benefit of the continuous-spiral car park was that it minimised wasted parking space given up to access ramps between floors and made for easier driving conditions, with no narrow single lane ramps with sharp turning radii. This is in contrast to the design adopted in many earlier car parks where the building consists of a series of horizontal floors connected with single lane ramps with sharp turning radii.

When first introduced, the continuous-ramp type of above-ground multi-storey car park was found to be particularly visually disruptive to neighbouring buildings because of its sloping floors. Some parking structures attempted to compensate for the lack of symmetry by masking the structure with grills or otherwise would not consider the context and emphasised the modern methods of construction. At Castle Terrace Car Park, the parking decks are open to King's Stables Road and the use of lightweight painted steel railings as balustrades counteracts the sloping nature of the ramps which was still likely considered to be disconcerting despite the fact that this car park was not flanked by other buildings. Rather, it was its sensitive historical context at the foot of Edinburgh Castle that informed its external architectural treatment.

Castle Terrace Car Park is a modern infrastructural design of considerable elegance. Designed in a modernist style characterised by an emphasis on volume, asymmetrical compositions, and minimal ornamentation it also considers its historic surroundings in its use of snecked rubble stone facing. The contextualisation with the use of rubble facing shows a particularly Scottish interpretation of modernism for public buildings of this date and which was prevalent in the innovative modern designs of Basil Spence and William Kinninmonth's practices in the 1940s and 50s which referenced the modern rubble aesthetic in schemes such as at the municipal housing for Dunbar or at Pollok Halls in Edinburgh.

The elongated plan form of Castle Terrace Car Park, with its semi-circular ends, is unusual for a multi-storey car park of the period, which were often a standardised rectangular plan. The plan form at Castle Terrace expresses the curved design of the spiral ramps but also responds to the constraints of the site of the former Castle Terrace Gardens. It follows the curve of Castle Terrace and the semi-circular ends follow the earlier pathways that connected Castle Terrace and King's Stables Road at the northern end and at Barrace Steps to the south.

The continuous ramp form of the car park was proposed by the Edinburgh City Engineers, led by Frank Dinnis (City Engineer and Master of Works 1961-1974). As Deputy City Engineer in 1958 Dinnis was inspired by a continuous ramp car park that he had visited on Nyropsgade in Copenhagen, which had just been completed (Brown, p. 204). Dinnis therefore appears to have been a leading figure in the design process for Castle Terrace Car Park, from proposing the initial idea for its form to overseeing the completion of the structure as City Engineer and Master of Works.

The consulting architects for Castle Terrace Car park were the Edinburgh based firm T. Waller Marwick & Associates. The firm's owner Thomas Waller Marwick (1904-1971) was noted for the accomplished modernism of his work in the 1930s and was invited to undertake a role in the design of the Glasgow Empire Exhibition of 1938. The firm's post-war work includes the tenement at 98-102 (even nos) West Bow, Grassmarket, Edinburgh (LB29909) designed in 1964-68 and the former Eagle Star Insurance Offices at the corner of Fredrick Street and 68 George Street, Edinburgh built in 1955. Both of these buildings are located in prominent sites in the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh respectively. T. Waller Marwick retired around 1966 and the car park was amongst the firm's final designs. Castle Terrace Car Park is a notable example of the accomplished modernism of the firm's work and their ability to design buildings which are sensitive to their historic settings.

The internal treatment of the car park is sparse and functional in nature, with the concrete structure largely being exposed. This is typical of multi-storey car parks of this period, particularly those with open-decks. Some 1960s car parks did feature interior decoration, such as the murals of abstract patterns which are cast into the concrete walls at the South Car Park in Cumbernauld Town Centre (1963-1968). Such decorative internal features are not present at Castle Terrace but some visual interest is provided by the design of the three open stairwells. These continue the external materials palette of reinforced concrete and steel railings, whilst their semi-circular form mirrors the curved edges of the car park. The open stairs and stair rails which curve downwards create a visual interplay with the largely horizontal form of the car decks.

Castle Terrace car park has remained substantially unaltered since its construction in the early 1960s. The plan form, materials and interior features are all well retained and the structure has a high level of authenticity which adds to its significance in listing terms.

Setting

Castle Terrace Car Park is located in a highly sensitive historic urban setting, which is within The Old and New Town of Edinburgh World Heritage Site (WH2) and the West End conservation area (CA8).

The car park is set into the steep slope of an embankment between King's Stables Road and the higher Castle Terrace. It is dominated by the Castle Rock and Edinburgh Castle, which tower above it to the northeast. The top decks merge with street level to form the eastern pavement of Castle Terrace, which is made up principally of early to mid-19th century terraced houses. The majority of the structure is not visible from this level which allows uninterrupted views east across the car park to Edinburgh Castle and north to Prince's Street Gardens. The principal elevation of the car park can be seen from King's Stables Road where the open, cantilevered decks appear to curve along the line of the road towards the King's Bridge.

Discussing the development of the car park in 1964, Brown noted that "The central area of Edinburgh probably presents the most difficult problem in relation to sites for off-street car parking that can be met anywhere in the UK or for that matter abroad" (p. 203). As a large building in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, the car park was specifically designed to integrate with its surroundings and to avoid obstructing key views of the city towards Edinburgh Castle and to Castle Terrace and Princes Street. Despite the size of the structure and the difficulties of the site, the car park is one of the most inconspicuous post-war buildings in central Edinburgh due to the use of the sloped site and the integration of the design with its surroundings.

Apart from the construction of the Saltire Court to the immediate southwest in 1992, which follows the curve and building line of Castle Terrace, the setting of the Car Park has remained substantially unaltered since its construction in the early 1960s.

The setting of the car park was highly influential in its form and design and makes an important contribution to its interest in listing terms.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

Multi-storey structures for storing cars had been built in Scotland form the early 20th century. The earliest known surviving of these is 24 Vinicombe Street, Former Botanic Gardens Garage, Glasgow (LB32935), designed by D V Wyllie around 1906-1912. This enclosed building with internal ramps was essentially an exclusive motor garage rather than a public car park.

Car ownership in Europe rose rapidly in the decades after the Second World War. In Britain the ratio of car ownership to population doubled between 1949 and 1962 (Klose, Introduction). In 1959, 32,850 cars were registered in Edinburgh (Edinburgh in the 1950s, p. 26). This sharp increase in the number of cars led to a parking problem in towns and cities and schemes for off-street parking, including multi-storey car parks were developed.

The design for the multi-storey car park at Castle Terrace was selected around 1959-1960. It was the first multi-storey car park to be built in Scotland (The Autocar, Jan 1962). The choice of the continuous ramp style, where cars park on sloping, curved floors, was inspired by a car park that the Deputy City Engineer had visited on Nyropsgade in Copenhagen, which was built in 1958 (Brown, p. 204). At the time that the design for Castle Terrace Car Park was selected (1959-60), no other continuous ramp multi-storey car parks had been constructed in Britain. Most multi-storey car parks up until this period were designed according to the staggered ramp system with sloping ramps linking horizontal floors or were mechanical, using lifts to manoeuvre the cars to the various floors.

Two continuous-ramp multi-storey car parks were built in England in the early 1960s. Rupert Street, Bristol (built in 1960) by Jelinek-Karl, and Lee Circle Car Park Leicester (built 1960-1962). Rupert Street was also one of the first open-deck multi-storey car parks in Britain, a style of car park that had been built in America since before the mid-20th century. Castle Terrace Car Park therefore was not only the first multi-storey car park in Scotland but sits amongst the earliest examples of continuous-ramp, open-deck multi-storey car parks to be built in Britain.

Multi-storey car parks that followed in the 1960s and 1970s in Scotland more commonly used different ramp systems. These included the external helical ramps linking horizontal decks, such as the multi-storey Car Park, Waterloo Street and Douglas Street, Anderston Cross designed by architects R Seifert & Partners and Ove Arup & Partners Engineers (1966), and Glasgow Airport multi-storey car park designed in 1966 by National Car Park Ltd. Many of the car parks were also integrated with other functions such as shops, offices and housing. Examples include Aberdeen Seamount Court, a large residential tower block with an integrated multi-storey car park at its base (built in 1965-66), and the South Car Park, a partially underground car park built as part of the first phase of the town centre complex at Cumbernauld designed by the Cumbernauld Development Corporation (1963-8).

Castle Terrace Car Park is of significant architectural and historic interest as the first multi-storey car park in Scotland and one of the earliest continuous-ramp, open-deck car parks in Britain. It is a rare example of a car park of the period, which was built with the sole function of storing cars rather than as part of a larger commercial or residential megastructure.

Social historical interest

The construction of Castle Terrace Car Park was the result of several years of debate during the post-war period over a solution to the problem of increased traffic in Edinburgh. The building is a reflection of substantial social and economic changes that occurred in mid-20th century Scotland, as private car ownership rapidly increased in the 1950s and became a principal concern for town planners.

The location and design of the building, which was built for the Edinburgh Corporation, contributes to our understanding of the particular planning context of the time. Its setting in the historic centre of Edinburgh reflects the renewed focus of planners from the late 1950s, on urban regeneration as opposed to the development of suburbs or new towns (A History of Scottish Architecture, p. 450). Furthermore, the design of the car park, in its desire to preserve surrounding views and streetscape character, also helps us to understand the contemporary debates about the destruction of the historic fabric of the city through modern planning.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.

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