Art Deco architecture and style permeates our modern consciousness. Some of the most recognizable buildings in the world—from the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building in New York City to Broadcasting House, Senate House, and Palladium House in London—fall into this style and these buildings are landmarks of our built environment. The strong geometric designs and streamlined forms of Art Deco buildings, with their mathematical precision and exotic artistic motifs, signal the modernity and forward-thinking that epitomises this architectural style.
Indelibly woven into Edinburgh’s cityscape is Great Junction Street. Opened in December 1938 as The State Cinema, it seated 1650 patrons in the main cinema and boasted four shops, two billiard halls, and a skittle alley on the two floors above the foyer. The original use of the building is in perfect step with the popular use of Art Deco for public buildings such as government headquarters, theatres, commercial buildings, and cinemas.
After many years as a cinema, The State Cinema shut in 1972. It was converted and reopened as a bingo club for a time and in the late 1990s it was reimaged as the Babylon nightclub until its closure in 2001. Designated as a Grade B listed building by Historic Scotland in 1995, The State Cinema has begun its transformation into Great Junction Street, a collection of thirty-seven apartments with a deep connection to the building’s Art Deco heritage and community presence.The rebirth of this building is helmed by Glencairn Properties, a boutique, family-owned development company based in Edinburgh and founded by brothers Daryl and Barry Teague. Their ethos is design-led, and the company only undertakes projects to build homes in which they would happily live themselves. Glencairn Properties is dedicated to excellence in design, construction, sustainability, and practicality. This mindset is reflected in the breadth of their projects and the partners chosen for collaboration. In addition to Great Junction Street, Glencairn Property projects include Bellevue Colonies, Bellevue Apartments, Craigmount Avenue, Woodhall Drive, and Liberton Barns.
It was very important to Glencairn that their development plans incorporated the Art Deco history of the original building. The cinema building was designed in the later portion of the heyday of Art Deco, which was popular from 1925-1940. The building has clean lines, white brick contrasted with dark windows, and balconies that wrap around the façade facing the water. For the internal design, a palette of white with strong black detailing in the light fittings and ironmongery nods to the design heritage. A significant centrepiece feature of Great Junction Street’s remodelling is the entrance foyer. This was the original cinema entrance and will have a modern interpretation of the wood panelling and terrazzo floor that comprised the grand original foyer.
Every Glencairn building project is centred around sustainable design. For Great Junction Street, a fabric first approach was adopted so that, as with other Glencairn properties, the building would be inherently airtight and insulated for the life of the building. Triple glazing has been integrated into the remodelling, where possible, and each of the flats will benefit from an extensive solar panel system that will provide electricity and heating to the communal areas of the building. The car park also features six electric car charging points outfitted with cables able to serve the majority of the car park.
The current design derived from the need to respect the Grade B listed building and its heritage while adding to the remaining building. The first priority was determining how to restore the historic building to its former beauty with full-scale internal and external repairs, including new Crittal windows. The next phase required creating a new addition to the existing building that was a modern take on the Art Deco style in synergy with both the building and the environment. The new portion of the building takes respectful account of the height of the Art Deco building, never dominating it, and opening out along the waterfront. The result has created a truly unique development with twenty-two different house types.
Great Junction Street is not a typical development because it offers twenty-two house types within a range of budgets. This allows buyers from a cross-section of society—from first time buyers and working professionals to families—to put roots down at this historic edifice. Buyers can choose between renovated flats in the original building or from the new build apartments, which are all accessible with level access and lifts.
The architect Renzo Piano noted that “one of the great beauties of architecture is that each time, it is like life starting all over again.” As a new chapter begins for The State Cinema as the tranquil Great Junction Street development, it will be one with great architectural beauty at its centre and with a vibrant community to call this place home.
To find out more about Great Junction Street, email [email protected].