Top of the list for cheerful contemplation, perhaps over a coffee in the café, is The Hub. The stunning building on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. This inspiring venue, popular for events, presents a fine aesthetic that you would expect from an ecclesiastical landmark designed (in part) by Pugin.
The echoes of Westminster’s elegant spires and buttresses are clearly evident from the outside.
The other architect of this mid-Victorian landmark was Scotland’s James Gillespie Graham. If you were making it a day of architectural exploration you could see more of his work in the New Town where terraces in Albyn Place, St Colme Street, Moray Place and Randolph Crescent were all his doing.
But not until stepping inside The Hub will you find full appreciation of Pugin’s style. He was no slouch when it came to colour, so would appreciate The Hub’s exuberant use of vivid primary colours applied with real contemporary flair. It all makes for a highly welcoming venue where design has been incorporated into all the event spaces, and where artworks are part of the décor rather than gallery exhibits.
The carved wooden balcony and pulpit in the main hall are a buttery caramel colour of surpassing beauty. The juxtaposition of bright patterned wall coverings make the large space seem very un-churchlike and, while hardly subtle, they work well across the variety of events that take place there. Many memorable weddings have been enhanced by this unusual, vibrant backdrop.
Glass art is a perennial favourite, and The Hub spoils with its treatment of the original windows, as well as the underlit glass streams which form a track along the central corridor. These are the work of Japanese-born Keiko Mukaide, whose work always captures the delight and magic of glass.
2017 is the year of Creativity, Architecture and Design in Scotland. Clearly The Hub was ahead of its time having brought all these elements together when undergoing its major refurbishment in 1999, and it is all there to be enjoyed at the heart of Edinburgh’s heritage quarter.