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Waverley Arches in Edinburgh

A New Lease of Life for Victorian Railway Arches in Edinburgh

Many cities throughout the UK have wonderful but neglected areas. Areas that underpin our social history, reminding us of bygone lifestyles, accomplishments and skills. They’re important, not just because we often don’t build in the same way anymore, but because in many ways they remind us about who we are and where we came from.

Industrial buildings are just as important as stately homes, connecting us with our social heritage. The railways, especially, have the power to transport us to a different era with their Victorian fuss and fancy, sweeping arches, and the masterful use of glass and ironwork still on show in many of our railway stations and infrastructure.

Blending the Past and the Present

GG Glass and Glazing is a company with its feet firmly in today’s world, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the history around us or relish city regeneration schemes.

We were especially pleased to have been selected to carry out the glazing work on the recent redevelopment of the C-listed Victorian railway arches in Edinburgh. Dating back to 1875, these iconic arches are exactly the kind of structures that often go unnoticed, taken completely for granted by the people who pass them everyday.

Now, thanks to the forward thinking enterprise of Artisan Real Estate Investors, the Waverley Arches in East Market Street, Edinburgh, live again as part of a brand new retail and leisure quarter in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Originally, the arches formed part of a bridge that was never completed, leaving one side of each of the 19 arches exposed.

15 of the arches are high enough for public use, ideally suited for repurposing as restaurants, bars, shops and cafes. In the largest of the arches, the new design extends over three levels with a roof terrace giving grand views over the Waverley Valley. Many of the other arches have dramatic double height ceilings, creating lofty, unique shopping and dining experiences.

Marrying the old with the new takes special consideration. In undertaking the glazing for the arches, we were conscious of the heritage we were working with, and it was important to maintain a sense of that history whilst bringing to bear the best of modern glazing technology. We needed to address safety and security as well as beauty and aesthetic integrity.

The Practical Details Behind the Beauty

We used Senior Architectural Systems SF52 curtain walling, SPW600 window inserts and SD doors. All the aluminum frames were polyester powder coated in RAL 9004 Signal Matt Black finish, giving them the unique ability to both stand out and blend in. Perfectly in keeping with the old world style of the surrounding brickwork yet totally modern for today’s city life.

Offering the best in security, the glazing comprises 28mm toughened units. Teleflex winding gear operates the high level windows, while manually operated handles open the lower ones. Renson TC60 manually operated ventilators help keep the air circulating, fresh and clean. We needed a range of reinforced structural box sizes from 125mm to 250mm to cater for the varying heights of the arches, which reach 6.5m unsupported. The SF52 curtain walling system chosen gave us the necessary versatility.

Previously used as storage areas and never having public access, the Waverley Arches project will breathe new life into that area of Edinburgh and beyond, offering close connections with The Royal Mile and the new public square at the heart of the redevelopment.

The project opens up historically important areas of the city never seen or appreciated before, and we were delighted by the opportunity to be a part of it.

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