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Calton Hill Observatory Refurbishment

The City Observatory is a Grade A-listed building and the Calton Hill complex of buildings is part of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Central building with stone pillars and a dome on the roof with walkways in the foreground


Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Faithful and Gould



After a four-year period of restoration, the Observatory (which had been left to degrade since the late 20th century) has been refreshed and is now open again for visitors. The project consisted of the restored City Observatory, the City Dome with Transit House and newly built exhibition space. The Hillside, restaurant, and welcome kiosk have been built at the East Gate.

We worked closely with the project team to understand and incorporate requirements from funders into our design. We carried out a fabric-first approach to deliver buildings that would remain comfortable under all conditions, while using as little energy as possible.

Donald Wilson, City of Edinburgh Council's Culture and Communities Convener, said "Gazing over the city from the top of Calton Hill, the city observatory has played an important role in Edinburgh life for hundreds of years…It is surely one of the most significant conservation projects to take place in Edinburgh in recent times.”

Key fact

The £4.5m redevelopment is the result of a partnership of over 20 organisations.


Key fact

Inspired by a Greek temple of the Four Winds, the Observatory was designed by William Henry Playfair in 1818.


Key fact

The restaurant is cantilevered over the north east corner of the boundary wall to maximise available views


Graham sat in a pale shirt with grey suit jacket and brown tie smiling at the camera.

Graham Thomson

Associate Director, Building Services

View bio

The £4.5m redevelopment is the result of a partnership of over 20 organisations. It is proof that collaborative working and project team co-operation can provide truly stunning results.



Regional Award

Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland