William Henry Playfair (1790-1857) was one of the most important architects in Edinburgh’s history. His work extends from Old College, at the heart of the University of Edinburgh, to the National Monument on Calton Hill, to the National Gallery of Scotland and beyond. Few architects of his age had the opportunity to make such a far-reaching impact on an urban landscape, but his work has not yet received the attention it is due.

The Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) aims to bring Playfair’s extraordinary contribution to the architecture of Edinburgh, and Scotland more generally, into public focus by initiating a multi-year educational, research and exhibition project.

Led by ESALA’s architectural historians, ‘William H. Playfair and Edinburgh’ is an initiative that will engage students, staff and external specialists in a re-evaluation of this architect’s importance to the image and fabric of the Scottish Capital. The ultimate aim of the initiative is to organise and host a major retrospective exhibition of the entire scope of Playfair’s work and publish a comprehensive catalogue documenting his legacy. This principal aim will be supported by a series of pedagogical and research events that incorporate students, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, in the analysis of primary materials and the selection of objects for exhibition. This will be a unique opportunity for students in the MA (Honours) Architectural History and MSc Architectural History and Theory programmes to work collaboratively with staff on a research project of national importance.

For more information about this project, please contact Dr Richard Anderson: Richard.P.Anderson@ed.ac.uk


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