Meadowbank grandstand is worth saving for its architecture

Meadowbank’s grandstand should be saved on architectural grounds. That’s the view of Dr. Dimitris Theodossopoulos, a lecturer in Architectural Technology at Edinburgh University.

Council leader Ewan Aitken wants his colleagues to vote on a motion that will sacrifice the Meadowbank grandstand for a small community centre so that hundreds of homes can be built on the current sports centre site.

“The architectural beauty of Meadowbank is mainly due to its grandstand,” said Dr. Theodossopoulos. “Get rid of that and the site it loses its character. The grandstand has to stay.

“Meadowbank is one of the last major examples of design carried out by the City Council architects. It can be included in the contemporary examples of creative attitude by local authorities all over Britain, like London’s Royal Festival Hall.

“The Stadium uses an interesting dynamic system of concrete beams and columns to form the main skeleton, which is clearly and elegantly expressed. As someone who is carrying out research on historic and modern shell architecture and structural forms, I find the way the steel members tie the grandstand along the London Road elevation a quite interesting feature, reminiscent of early hi-tech sports architecture like P. L. Nervi’s Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome for the 1960 Olympics. The result is a rhythmical composition which with an improved landscape and lighting scheme can become more prominent.

“I am aware of the problems the council has faced in maintaining the Stadium but I believe the architectural and cultural prominence of the site can be matched to its significance as a vital sports facility for the community and therefore a carefully drafted development masterplan can provide the required value for all of East Edinburgh.

“The whole project could become more viable by incorporating the industrial sites to the south and by demolishing the redundant office block to the east.

“There has not been a comprehensive feasibility study for such an important development. Only a few arguments have been considered and the debate has been based only on the finances needed to create Sighthill and refurbish the Commonwealth Pool.

“The draft development brief only states no listed buildings are contained in the site which gives a very limited idea of what can constitute heritage or architectural value.

“I therefore register my strong objection to the scheme and the demolition of the Stadium.”

Campaigners welcomed his views. Save Meadowbank spokesperson Paula Ferguson commented: “The motion tabled by council leader Ewan Aitken does not address concerns of local residents because it still means the building of hundreds homes on the Meadowbank site.

“It doesn’t admit mistakes have been made. Instead it asks councillors to re-affirm previous decisions. Yet we now know these original decisions were flawed due to failings in the original consultation process and a funding disagreement with SportScotland.

“The Liberal Democrats want Meadowbank refurbished. The SNP has done a complete turnaround and is now calling for the same.

“A local poll showed 87% of respondents wanted to Save Meadowbank. Given this level of support, why can’t Labour simply admit they made a mistake and propose a reversal of the decision to demolish Meadowbank?”

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