Hunt for architects to transform John Knox House and Edinburgh's Literary Quarter

Calls are today being made for designers and architects to join the team dedicated to redeveloping Edinburgh’s John Knox House to celebrate Scotland’s literary history.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 4:06 pm
Updated Friday, 25th September 2020, 4:27 pm
The interior of John Knox House, Edinburgh
The interior of John Knox House, Edinburgh

John Knox House is at the forefront of plans to enhance the Literary Quarter area of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile with calls now being made to find architects and designers to join a team dedicated to ‘reinvigorating’ the area.

Alison Bowden, Director of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said: “We’re excited and pleased to be entering this next stage in our long-term cultural development plan for John Knox House and the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

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"We’re looking for a really excellent and inspiring design team to work with, and people who understand how special the location is and how important these buildings are to Edinburgh.”

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Hopeful creatives are being asked to enter a competitive tender process to work with the Trust to create a Literature House for Scotland at John Knox House.

Ms Bowden went on to say that once the team has been finalised, their priority will be to present detailed ideas for the future of the building and the Scottish Story Telling Centre sometime in 2021.

The aim is to encourage people to engage with and learn more about the history of Scottish literature and storytelling.

She added: “Working together with the Church of Scotland (who own both buildings), the City of Edinburgh Council, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, and the local community,

our hope is that we will transform the way Scotland understands its literary story by reinvigorating this magnificent and historic building, and giving it new purpose as Scotland’s first

Literature House.”

The Church of Scotland’s Chief Officer, Dave Kendall, welcomed the next stage of the Literature House project, saying that he sees great potential in the proposal.

The Chair of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, Ruth Plowden, added: “The creation of Scotland’s first Literature House is a bold and fitting development for the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Our hope is that this new space will provide a home for our literary story, be a catalyst to develop the wider area, and offer a year-round welcome to

everyone in the city.”Dr Donald Smith Chief Executive of TRACS, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland said they are delighted to support the vision of turning John Knox house in a Literature House.

As the lead programme partner at the Scottish Storytelling centre, the news comes as a welcome development.

Dr Donald Smith said: “It will bring new profile to the area as a showcase for Scotland's culture, and as a hub for creatives and learners alike, locally, nationally and internationally.”

Councillors across Edinburgh have also shared their support for the project saying that it will shine a positive light on Edinburgh’s literary heritage and creativity.

Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, City of Edinburgh Council Culture and Communities Vice-Convener, said: “In addition to the benefits for literature and a literary quarter in the

city, looking to the future role of the historic John Knox House is a positive statement of cultural ambition and intent in these challenging times.”

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is working with RIAS Consultancy to tender for a design team through public procurement. The notice for the Tender can be found at

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