Client : Festival Inns
Location : Edinburgh
Value : £1.25m
Completion Date : December 2006
Awards : Winner of Bronze from the Roses Design Awards

Lee Boyd were commissioned by Festival Inns Ltd in early 2006 to design the interior of the Grade B Listed Oddfellows Hall inForrest Road, Edinburgh. 

The brief called for the insertion of a new public house with kitchen facilities within the ground floor, with additional public space on the balconies above. The ancillary accommodation such as cellars, food storage and toilets are located at basement level. Located within the Old Town, the historical importance of the building became a driving factor within the renovation.

From when it was first built in 1873, Oddfellows Hall on Forrest Road was the central gathering point for the local members of the Oddfellows Order. Back then, the building was divided into two galleried halls, retiring rooms for lecturers and committee meetings, function rooms and dormitories. Since then, the front gallery had been divided into two stores with only a small access corridor leading to the rear hall, which had been hidden by an unsympathetic fit out and vandalism.

Our Client’s decision to remove the shop units and return the building to its original configuration allowed us to create a feature of the entrance, raising the building presence and transparency to the street through its impressive double height space. We took this opportunity to invite Edinburgh based artist Gregor Laird to design a double height artwork that would become a motif for the venue. His Garden of Eden piece titled ‘Utopia’ reflects our desire to mould classical and traditional features with irony and contemporary materials and ideas. This was also achieved with the main feature pieces of the gathering table in the main hall; placed in the centre of the main space, it is designed to encourage communal interaction. Its inspiration is drawn from the original friendly society ethos and banquets which may have taken place here.

The main hall was renovated to reveal the building’s fine detail and craftsmanship, which has been enhanced with detailed painting and a technologically advanced lighting scheme. In order to reduce impact upon the main hall’s volume, we have held the insertions of the bars and kitchens back from the line of the balcony, within the undercrofts of the first floor balcony and single height spaces, allowing them to read as new objects within the space.

Fittings such as polycarbonate baroque light fittings, which are suspended upside down from the ceiling, and the sculptural plywood moose heads, add not only fun to the project but contextualise with our design to be referential to the past.

Credits : Photographs by Paul Zanre Photography