Edinburgh Local

Re-imagining Hunter Square

Edinburgh students have been invited to contribute ideas on how to transform Hunter Square into a safer and more dynamic space.

A safer Square

Hunter Square is an important place in the life of the Old Town of Edinburgh. At the junction of the Royal Mile and South Bridge with the Tron Kirk at the corner, it is a focal point for residents, businesses and visitors within the World Heritage Site. 

Over the last few years, incidences of challenging behaviour in the Square has increased, so, over the summer, the City Centre Community Policing team approached the University to see if we could help develop ideas to help make the space better-used and more welcoming for all.

I am asking students to get involved in suggesting ideas for designs that change Hunter Square into a more welcoming and vibrant space through clever design or artwork.

Sergeant Scott CaseyPolice Scotland

The Community Policing team asked students to create inclusive design responses which would make the Square safer and more pleasant for all those using the space. These solutions would include, rather than merely displace, those users of the Square who currently face a number of problems, including social challenges.

Design ideas

Staff and students from various parts of the University got together with the Edinburgh City Centre Community Policing team and the City of Edinburgh Council to think about positive solutions for the space.

They consulted with local residents and local businesses who pointed out that the key issue with the Square is that it lacks purpose. They felt that the Square should be enjoyed by everybody: tourists, locals and residents and its purpose should be flexible allowing it to cater to as many people as possible. Taking this into consideration, University students and staff designed a space which was full of life, hustle and bustle and was completely open, light and inviting.

Hunter Square is a prime public space in the centre of our beautiful city and we want to make sure it’s accessible and inviting to all.

Chief Inspector Mark Rennie
Hunter Square design
A design idea for Hunter Square

The students walso felt that the anti-social behaviour taking place was a consequence of societal issues and, as the Parish Church in Hunter Square was built to help the poor, they made this a core element of their designs.

Some of the design ideas were to:

  • Create new routes through the Square by adding new steps from the Square to South Bridge, encouraging pedestrian flow.
  • Add large mobile planters to make the Square greener whilst maintaining flexibility without the need for expensive ground works.
  • Add interest to the Square through careful licensing so buskers and market stalls can use the space.
  • Establish social enterprise market stalls and a timetable of different community events to provide employment for vulnerable people as a way of addressing the underlying social issues around the Square.

The local police were impressed with the outcome and are already looking at ways to implement the changes. The University has arranged an extra-curricular project for students to set the process rolling.