Scaffolding goes up around in the City Observatory as conservation of the roof begins, February 2017.


The foundations are laid for the new gallery and restaurant.


Collective staff are shown the progress on the interior of the City Observatory, where the walls in the main hall have been removed in line with Playfair's original design.


The roof of the Transit House is restored.


Collective's new home takes shape

13 March 2017

Building and restoration work is now well underway on Calton Hill, as our plans to save the City Observatory and build a new gallery become a reality.

Contractors Esh Border Construction recently laid the foundations of a new gallery space and restaurant, which will nestle into the hill side next to the City Observatory. These buildings are the first to be constructed on the summit of Calton Hill since the City Dome was added to the Observatory site in 1895 and will feature a viewing platform and outdoor terrace to make the most of the stunning views.

Meanwhile, inside the City Observatory, a number of interior dividing walls added in the 20th century have been removed as we begin to restore the building to William Playfair’s original 1818 plans. A striking feature of the Observatory is the wide, wood-shuttered, slot in the roof through which the transit telescope tracked stars across a meridian (allowing the time to be calculated). Blocked up over the years, this feature is now being carefully restored with new watertight glazing to keep it ship shape for another century. Soon, the Observatory dome itself will be restored and re-painted.

In the grounds of the City Observatory the old Transit House – an earlier observatory – is also being prepared for restoration. Damaged by fire and vandalism in the past, the Transit House has a few secrets locked away which will be revealed as part of this project. Recently the modern plastic and bitumen roof covering was stripped to reveal a beautiful timber frame construction beneath. The building will soon have a new life as Collective’s main learning and education space.

Help Collective finish the job

We are incredibly grateful to all of the funders and individual donors who have made this project possible. With just under 5% of our fundraising target still to raise, we are almost there but need your help to finish the job.

You can contribute to the restoration of the Observatory today by buying a brick – click here to donate.


Alternatively, to discuss a donation please contact: Lori Anderson on +44 (0)131 556 1264; [email protected]