The new Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group World Headquarters is situated on the site of the former Gogarburn Hospital, which lies within the Edinburgh Green Belt. AECOM’s role as landscape masterplanners involved carrying out the landscape and visual impact assessment for the Environmental Impact Assessment and developing the external setting, which consists of extensive use of natural stone for entrances/drop-offs, and themed contemporary courtyards.

Between Edinburgh and the city airport, the sensitive, 65 hectare green-belt site is adjacent to three Areas of Great Landscape Value and within the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. Because it was anticipated that the new building could affect the local hydrology, the landscape design had to incorporate solutions for dealing with the possible changes. The need to minimise the scheme’s visual and physical impact has guided the design of the buildings, infrastructure and landscape.

To complement the high-quality office accommodation for 3000 staff, the landscape has been part-restored and remodelled by AECOM to provide an exemplary setting. The work included the following:

  • Restoration and replanting of some areas;
  • Opening up sweeping vistas;
  • Integrating flood-mitigation measures;
  • Planting of new hedges; and also
  • Creating courtyards and extensive planting in the building’s internal street at the heart of the development.

In addition to collaborating on the scheme’s masterplan with the HQ designer, Michael Laird Architects, we undertook the landscape visual impact assessment and detailed landscape design through to implementation. To address the hydrology issues, sensitive earthworks included redirecting the course of the Gogar Burn and creating two large reed beds as part of the extensive site-wide sustainable urban drainage system. Taking account of the site’s close proximity to the airport, all tree and hydrological management systems were developed in close collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority.

Other high-profile work included:

  • Importing significant numbers of semi-mature trees including oaks and limes to form new avenues and woodland areas;
  • Hard and soft landscaping; and
  • Carrying out the landscape and garden restoration design around Gogarburn House, which has been refurbished and converted for use as a staff health and leisure centre.

Michael Laird Architects