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    Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh


    Geologically-themed visitor centre on a historically significant site.

    Location:Edinburgh, Scotland
    Size:4,000 m²
    Awards:Civic Trust Award
    RIBA Regional Award

    Dynamic Earth is located at the foot of Salisbury Crags, where the 18th century geologist James Hutton developed his seminal theories on rock formation. When the Scottish and Newcastle Brewery left its former brewery to the City of Edinburgh for public use, the site’s historical significance inspired the idea of developing an attraction with a geological theme. This required a large and flexible black box for interactive virtual and widescreen film technologies that simulate events in the Earth’s creation and evolution.

    The design consists of three main elements: terrace forecourt, tented entrance foyer, and the two-storey black box. This latter is accommodated within the existing walls of the old nineteenth-century brewery, which has been restored and extended. Beneath everything is a basement car park.

    Visitors enter via a public amphitheatre used for a variety of outdoor performance events, with York stone used for the steps and granite paving for the stage area. This civic space leads to the generous tented entrance pavilion, topped by a tensile roof structure of PTFE-coated glass fibre membranes and enclosed by glazed perimeter walls. The membranes are stretched between elliptical steel ladder trusses suspended from four pairs of steel masts.

    The foyer is designed as a gathering and events space, restaurant and viewing platform, and also functions as a distinctive marker in the cityscape for the Dynamic Earth attraction. A hemispherical dome erupts into this oval enclosure from below as a foretaste of the activity in the multimedia attraction beneath the pavilion. Accessed by two large spiral staircases, this lower zone houses the two-storey black box exhibition space along with offices, workshops and a function room.

    Part-financed by the Millennium Commission, the visitor experience simulates

    earthquakes, volcanoes and the dynamic processes which formed natural settings such as the formations of the adjacent Salisbury Crag.