Tilting Yard, King’s Stables Road






Main Contractor – Bowmer and Kirkland
Structural and Civil Engineer - Cundall
M&E Engineer - MaxFordham
Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor – Axiom PSL
Landscape Architect – HarrisonStevens
Planning Consultant – Scott Hobbs
Agents – Knight Frank


Peveril Securities and Campus DM


King’s Stables Road and its environs sit on the necklace of spaces that surround Edinburgh Castle and form gateways to the Castle Rock, Princes Street Gardens and the streets and squares of Old and New Town; yet creeping Twentieth Century industrialisation left it partially derelict, inaccessible and blocking local permeability. The necklace was broken. Thus, we saw the design challenge as not just to fix the site itself but to do it in such a way that the wider context could also be healed – for the site to re-join the city.

The design had to respond to the requirements of its location within a UNESCO World Heritage site, tourist destination and thoroughfare, but also to the challenges of a dynamic modern city. The spaces had to be multi-functional, navigable, safe, easily maintained, robustly but beautifully detailed.

An interrogation of historic mapping to understand the site’s evolving layout and uses was married with a study of local connectivity and typologies. This was then overlaid onto the site, resurrecting historic routes, identifying new links and connecting to the emerging architectural context, responding to proposed new uses and architecture.

At the centre of the site, a courtyard gathering space generates a spatial hierarchy allowing varied uses; addressing the public and semi-private alike. Variations in level, material and furniture detail help define these uses and add atmosphere for residents, public and patrons of the new and re-purposed buildings. Planted rain gardens offer integrated water management and reduce the burden of below-ground attenuation on the site’s archaeological heritage as well as increase biodiversity.

A major part of the site’s history includes the location of Medieval Jousting or ‘Tilting Yard’ and stables. Indeed jousting tournaments were held on this site in honour of King James IV. A tilting yard typically featured a rail down the middle to separate the riders; a Corten rail now runs through the new courtyard, transitioning from an insert within the paving – etched with jousting poles and text referencing the historic context – into an upright rail helping to define the spaces and provide cycle ‘racks’. Corten tree grilles feature laser-cut perforations of horses’ hooves, the grille size replicating that of the typical warhorses of the times.

With a strong identity, embedded in the social and urban history of King's Stables Road, this site now offers n active, animated and dynamic urban space. It will continue to connect and contribute to Edinburgh.