Edinburgh International Book Festival moves to historic hospital

The former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary building on Lauriston Place has been lined up as the new home of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The main perpetrators will appear in locations spread across a new £120million development being created in the A-listed landmark of Lauriston Place, which dates back to 1879.

The book festival will move to a new complex at the University of Edinburgh, which will become the centerpiece of the Quartermile development near Meadows and George Square The move will take effect from 2024 under a partnership with the University of Edinburgh, which is transforming the Victorian building for its “institute of the future”.

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New indoor spaces created for conferences and events will be used for the festival, which will also have a ‘green village’ outdoor space at the rear of the main building and a main entrance via a new public square being created off Lauriston Place.

Edinburgh’s former Royal Infirmary is currently undergoing a £120million transformation into a new university complex.

The festival will be based for the next two summers at the Edinburgh College of Art, where the event moved last year from Charlotte Square, its home since 1983.

The move will allow the festival to span a larger footprint than it had in Charlotte Square, in spaces suitable for live streaming events, in line with the ‘hybrid’ model introduced to the festival last year. .

The last patients were treated in the building designed by David Bryce in 2003 following the construction of a new infirmary at Petite France.

The Edinburgh Futures Institute complex will bring together academics from the arts, humanities and sciences, and create space for start-ups, innovation labs, exhibitions and events.

An image of what the main entrance to Edinburgh’s Old Royal Infirmary will look like when a £120million redevelopment is complete.

Book festival director Nick Barley said moving the festival would help the new development live up to the building’s original ethos which is inscribed above the main entrance: “patet omnibus” – which means open to all.

He said: ‘The new Edinburgh Futures Institute is tucked away behind signs at the moment, but it’s a massive development going on right now in the center of the city.

“The university wants to take the original ethos of the building and make it real, so it’s not just an academic institution with ivory towers. It will connect the university to the city and citizens of Edinburgh.

“In the summer, the obvious thing to do is to set up a festival there.

“It’s been a construction site for so long that it’s also become a forgotten area of ​​the city, but it will revitalize the whole area.

“It’s an absolutely huge building that has a lot of different interior spaces, including a main theater that’s built underground under the new plaza.” The overall site footprint will be much larger than what we had in Charlotte Square. We also have a long-term agreement to use the building, so we will have a lot more breathing room to invest and grow.

“It will be a game-changer for us, but it will also mean that we don’t have to build our theaters every year, which will really reduce our carbon footprint. I think there will also be room for other events occur in the summer.”

University Principal Peter Mathieson said: “We will provide world-class venues and our students and staff will be an integral part of the festival programme, sharing and discussing ideas with audiences in Edinburgh and around the world. .

Angela C. Hale