School of Informatics

University Press Release

Statement on the creation of Informatics Forum released on 30th August 2004.

University unveils innovative plan to transform city centre site

The University of Edinburgh took the first step of a major plan for the regeneration of the heart of its main campus recently, when officials lodged a planning application with City of Edinburgh officials for a development in the Potterrow area. The first phase of the development is a new £40m building on the Crichton Street car park site, planned for completion in 2007. This will provide a new centre, the Informatics Forum for the University's School of Informatics, one third of which was displaced from its South Bridge premises by the Old Town fire in December 2002.

The School of Informatics is one of the 'jewels in the crown' of the University of Edinburgh and makes a significant economic contribution to both the University and the city. It is the only five star A-rated School of Computing in the UK and is regarded as one of the top four in the world.

It will give Scotland an intellectual forum for the new Enlightenment.

Professor Michael FourmanHead of the School of Informatics

The new building will be one of which the University and the City can be proud, providing a new focus for the University's presence in the south side community. It has been designed by Bennetts Associates, with Reiach and Hall, who have worked to integrate the accommodation needs of the University with consideration for the environment and the local community.

John Miller of Bennetts Associates explained: " The proposed Potterrow building looks more complex than it actually is. The University requires simple flexible space to accommodate constantly changing academic requirements. We have therefore varied the scale, introduced pedestrian routes to a courtyard and changed materials to balance functionality against the desire to contribute positively to a diverse context."

"The University is also committed to a broad view of sustainability and therefore the design approach has been informed by social and economic as well as environmental objectives."

Professor Michael Fourman, Head of the School of Informatics, welcomed the move. He said: "This development will secure Edinburgh's position as a leading centre for the new enlightenment, in which information and communication technologies underpin a revolution in society: changing the ways we work and play; changing the ways we teach and learn, changing the way we think.

The new building will place Informatics at the centre of the University

Professor Michael FourmanHead of the School of Informatics

"Our new mastery of information is changing the infrastructure of society-across the board-changing manufacturing, commerce and finance; changing drug discovery, medicine and healthcare; changing research and scholarship.

"Alongside these changes, we have a revolution in thought. In the new Enlightenment, a new computational metaphor joins the mechanical metaphor of the 18th century. Computational models provide a new paradigm for explanation and understanding across the Arts, Humanities, Sciences and Medicine.

"The new building will place Informatics at the centre of the University. It will allow top researchers in Computer Science, Cognitive Science, Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence to develop a common understanding of fundamental phenomena such as communication, computation and cognition, to interact with others, both within and outwith the University, and to build the multidisciplinary teams needed for new applications in areas ranging from neuroscience and bioinformatics to speech technology, robotics, and core technologies for ubiquitous computing. It will give Scotland an intellectual forum for the new Enlightenment."

Further phases of the Potterrow development are planned to include accommodation for a range of student support services, and for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The City of Edinburgh Council's planning committee endorsed the University's ten-to fifteen -year masterplan framework for the George Square/Bristo Square area- of which this application is a key part- at their meeting on 3 June, 2004.

Angus Currie, Director of Estates and Buildings at the University of Edinburgh said: "We are working with the local authority, residents and conservation groups to ensure that we achieve the best possible accommodation to meet the needs of our staff and students and over time to enhance the south side of the central area of our city. This extensive programme of building and renovation will take between ten and fifteen years, and will benefit both the University and the surrounding area. The Potterrow development will be a significant step towards creating a more coherent precinct for the University, whilst retaining and enhancing connections with the city and meeting our masterplan framework objectives."