Archer's Hall, Edinburgh

The Royal Company of Archers was formed in 1676 as a private archery club and remains so today. The Company received its Royal Charter in 1704 and in 1822 were appointed as the ‘sovereign’s body-guard in Scotland’. This ceremonial duty is still carried out today whenever the reigning sovereign visits Scotland.

Since 1777 the Royal Company of Archers have been based at Archers’ Hall, Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh. Archers’ Hall is a Category A-listed building and stands within extensive private grounds owned by the company. Historically, these grounds were used for bowling and archery. In 2008 the company commissioned a design team to prepare design proposals for new student residences and new archery butts to be built within the grounds.

The new two and three-storey residences provide accommodation for just 80 students. The buildings are designed in timber frame and are situated around a communal courtyard. The courtyard also provides a pedestrian access route through the site. To the rear of the new residences, the private archery club remains. The new archery butts are designed in steel and the former Bowling Green will form a new garden for the club’s ceremonial and private functions.

The residences have been designed such that they can be converted easily into single-occupancy, private dwellings – a new twist on the usual route of converting houses into student flats.

The new buildings have a contemporary feel but the design is sympathetic to the site and to the historic buildings adjacent. The scale of the new development is reduced by sitting the buildings into the ground. To achieve this, in situ reinforced concrete and piled retaining walls provide support to adjacent roads and footpaths. The courtyard incorporates permeable paving and the granular sub-base is used as storage to attenuate the surface water prior to discharge to the mains system.

We are delighted that this project won the Regeneration/Conservation Award at the RIAS Edinburgh Architectural Awards 2012.