The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Malcolm Fraser Architects

The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) is a world class interdisciplinary research and teaching facility focusing on key climate related challenges facing society.  The ECCI addresses the significance of climate change at the science-society interface and informs political decision making.


The project involved a major alteration and extension of the Category B listed Old High School building, Edinburgh. The brief included consideration of adjoining buildings, and proposals to reinvigorate the land within the High School Yards, to the boundary of Infirmary Street at the front of the Old High School and the enclosed space of Surgeon’s Square to the rear. The brief was to respect, but transform the Old High School in such a way to provide appropriate and flexible space to suit the demands of ECCI’s functional requirements relating to communication and the exchange of ideas, including teaching/seminar space, lecture/conferencing facilities; meeting rooms; staff offices; a Masters student hub and café.

Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Building Design

SPAB Briefing, Energy Efficiency in Old Buildings

The Transformation of High School Yards:  Film presented by Calum Duncan


Location:  Old High School,  12 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LT

Client:  University of Edinburgh

Completed:  September 2013

Contract value:  £6.1m

Contract type:  Traditional JCT with Quantities

Contractor:  Graham Construction

Greatest challenge:  ECCI has been designed to achieve an exceptionally low energy demand, and the first refurbished or listed building in the world to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating. The environmental concerns needed to be balanced with conservation issues, access and other user requirements. This was proved to possible, by careful consideration, working with the historic fabric and providing a building which accommodates ‘current day’ user requirements. To give practical example of the challenge: significant co-ordination was required at design and construction stages to thread complex M+E installations through the existing masonry fabric and between an engineered timber primary structure, with typically large beam depths, without being detrimental to the clarity of the building’s character or design.

BREEAM:  Outstanding


EAA Building of the Year Winner

EAA Regeneration & Conservation – Finalist

EAA Wood Award – Finalist

My Place Awards – Commendation

Scottish Design Awards – Education – Winner

Scottish Property Awards – Commercial Buildings – Highly Commended

Civic Trust Awards – Regional Finalist

Retrofit Awards – Finalist

Photography:  Dave Morris