Silent Destiny

Cala Homes are about to start the disputed redevelopment of Edinburgh’s old deaf School, Donaldson’s college, after the controversial Architects firm Richard Murphy finalised plans this year.

In 2003, under serious financial pressure, the college was forced to sell up to Cala Homes, but rented the property until early 2008 when the new purpose built school was built in Linlithgow.

Despite the relatively low key sale of the historic building there has been a huge amount of concern from locals who believe that the interior of the building may be destroyed by the developer’s plans.

Ann Chalmers, a local residence said: “it has been a deaf school since I have lived in the area and it has remained untouched as far as I know, but like everything, it has come to the end of its use.

“I think it will be nice to see more people in the area, but I really hope they don’t ruin the interior, or the exterior, for that matter.”

The New Design

 Richard Murphy Architects who have designed the new interior and outer buildings of Donaldson’s have sometimes attracted controversy in their designs. Their conversion of John Muir’s birth place in Dunbar attracted angry letters from around the world. Although, not changing any of the original features within the building, many conservation groups accused Richard Murphy of disregarding the cultural heritage of the building.

Steven Robb, Inspectorate of Listed Building Consent, said: “Historic Scotland and the council agreed to the alteration to the inside of the building, but one year on we now feel that their plans may be destructive to the interior. We are still in discussion about exactly what will happen to the building.”

The class A listed building was built in 1841 by William Henry playfair and has been the official residence of the Edinburgh Deaf School since 1851.

Richard Murphy Architects declined to comment as their involvement in the project is now complete.