Ica Studio wins Architectural Excellence Award

Ica Studio, an architecture and interior design studio regarded as one of the world’s leading hotel architecture and design practices, has won the Architectural Excellence Award at the 2023 Scottish Property Awards for its India Buildings project, now home to Virgin Hotels Edinburgh…

bed with white linen against a wooden panelled wall in guestroom at virgin Hotels Edinburgh

The Scottish Property Awards is an independent competition, which honours the achievements in the real estate sector by shining a light on the best new public and commercial buildings in Scotland. Walking away with the Architectural Excellence Award for its work on Virgin Hotels Edinburgh, the Ica Studio team’s heritage know-how, combined with creative talent and expertise, led to a design that was able to unlock the viability of the challenging city-centre site of the project.

“A project like this has a long road to travel from concept to completion and it involved the talent and dedication of many incredible people,” said Sussanah Macneill, Managing Director, Ica Studio. “This award is a testament to the power of teamwork, strength of vision and the importance of never giving up!”

dramatic vaulted ceiling and chandelier in restaurant at Virgin Edinburgh by ICA Studio

Image credit: Virgin Hotels

Ica Studio’s challenge was to combine the restoration of three distinctly separate ‘at risk’ listed buildings, which occupy dramatically different levels within the local cityscape, with new build elements carefully considered, to re-establish the historic form of the site, whilst also showcasing a bold, contemporary Edinburgh. The design allows for the three listed buildings to be linked both to each other and to the new build part of the hotel with sympathetic yet modern interventions, creating a new flow through the complex site and deliberately framing unexpected views out into both the more intimate bustling local streets and closes and towards the grander views of Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town roofscape. The design also provides for dramatic public spaces, rooftop gardens and cosy bedrooms, creating a bold contrast between old and new, light and dark, modern and traditional.

Image caption: Commons Club Bar Virgin Hotels Edinburgh. | Image credit: Ica Studio

Image caption: Commons Club Bar Virgin Hotels Edinburgh. | Image credit: Ica Studio

In working with existing buildings, every project has inherent quirks and challenges. However, the key to a successful refurbishment is careful planning, creativity and lateral thinking. Ica Studio has mastered the art of ‘expecting the unexpected’ and the team is adept at designing a well-executed historic development, combining the existing elements of unique properties with the perks and privileges of a contemporary luxury hotel.

For the team at Ica Studio, which is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, the new Virgin Hotels Edinburgh is the outstanding result of many years of specialised experience, a lot of hidden hard work in both design and technical expertise to de-risk and make the project viable, conceptual talent, a love of hospitality and a flair for problem-solving.

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Main image credit: Virgin Hotels