Dewar Place Substation

Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Skakel and Skakel

Gavin Fraser

Strategy + Branding

In the mid-1990s, part of Edinburgh’s West End underwent a renaissance, and a formerly neglected area of town emerged as a new business district inhabited by legal and financial services companies. Prominent within this area was a substantial Scottish Power substation which performs a major role in distributing electricity to central Edinburgh and could not be relocated.

Scottish Power’s response was to employ designers Skakel and Skakel along with Speirs + Major to explore how the visual quality of the plant could be improved... could the industrial ugly duckling become a contemporary landmark?

Simple interventions of landscape and colour transformed the machinery by day, and by night light celebrates it and the power it transmits.

A simple layer of accent lighting draws attention to the structures and machines that make up the substation, and a layer of kinetic colour-changing light to the large transformers creates variety and gives life to the otherwise static site.

In its highly visible position beside a major access road, the substation is surrounded by a 5 star hotel, the headquarters of a major insurance company, and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. The project successfully changed public perception from eyesore to landmark and created a vibrant element of the dynamic new business quarter.

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