Observatory House to be revived

We are pleased to announce our plans to bring Observatory House back into use.

Observatory House, which forms one corner of Collective's home on the City Observatory site, is a residential house dating back to the 18th century and was formerly occupied by resident astronomers. Previously renovated and offered as a holiday let by the Vivat Trust until 2015, we now plan to upgrade the house and divide it into two apartments which will be available as lets separately or together for larger groups.

As well as being available to hire, Observatory House will host artists visiting Collective as part of our programme of international art commissions from artists who have never shown their work in Scotland previously. The House will also be opened to the public for special events such as Doors Open Days.

Kate Gray, Director of Collective, said:

“Observatory House is a gem of a building in an incredible location. Though this is a challenging time for Collective as we emerge from an extended closure and are struggling with the loss of expected income, it is even more important that we move forward with plans to complete the full integration of our historic site. As a charity, we are dependent on fundraising and income generation to deliver our mission to bring people together around contemporary art. Giving Observatory House a new lease of life as a lettable space will allow us to generate income that will help keep Collective freely accessible to all.”

Following a formal tender process in December 2019, Collective is delighted to have appointed Collective Architecture to lead the restoration. The Scottish architects previously led the redevelopment of the rest of the site, which was shortlisted for the RIAS Best Building in Scotland Award in 2019. Plans submitted by the architects for Listed Building Consent include the retention of historic interior features such as the ‘whispering room’ on the first floor, a re-modelling of the interior spaces and a unique decorative finish which will draw on commissions from artists and makers based in Scotland.

The restoration of Observatory House follows Collective Architecture’s design of the Lookout, the unique new hilltop restaurant run by Collective’s restaurant partners the Gardener’s Cottage.

Renovations to the house are set to begin early in 2021, subject to a fundraising campaign and following the appointment of a suitable contractor. It is hoped both apartments in the House will be available to book from summer 2021.