The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh awards restoration contract to Balfour Beatty
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) – a world-leading centre of excellence in plant science, conservation, horticulture and education – has selected Balfour Beatty to restore its Grade-A Listed, Temperate and Tropical Palm Houses.
The two-year, £12.5 million contract will see Balfour Beatty replace deteriorating and damaged stonework, roof structures and windows to meet the statutory obligations for the listed buildings and provide long-term protection for almost 800 plant specimens that are normally housed in the Palm Houses. In addition, the company will restore all ironwork including the spiral staircases, guttering and downpipes.
Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh added: “At a time when 40 per cent of the world’s plant species are under threat of extinction, the work we do to research and conserve biodiversity has never been more important.
“The restoration of the Palm Houses, has two significant outcomes for the nation and the world, safeguarding a global botanical resource and restoring these magnificent historic buildings.”
Hector MacAulay MBE, Regional Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s UK Construction Services business in Scotland said: “We are delighted to have partnered with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh once again to deliver this significant restoration project.
“We now look forward to sympathetically restoring the Palm Houses to reflect the history and character of the buildings whilst also preserving the precious plant collection, which is of international importance in terms of biodiversity conservation, for the future.”
Once complete, the project will form a critical part of RBGE’s ambitious ‘Edinburgh Biomes’ plan, which aims to protect the Garden’s unique and globally important plant collection. The landmark ‘Edinburgh Biomes’ project was selected by Balfour Beatty in 2021 as the centrepiece of its roadmap towards the zero carbon construction site of the future.
Following the completion of advanced works in August, throughout the next phase of the scheme, the company will be focusing on reducing scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions; monitoring not only its own emissions but also those associated with its supply chain. You can track Balfour Beatty's progress here.
Work on the restoration of the Palm Houses is due to start in the Autumn of 2022, with completion expected in 2024.
For further information, interviews or images, please respond to this email or contact Suzie Huggins on 07385 491 460 or Shauna Hay on 07824 529 028.
Edinburgh Biomes is the most exciting and visionary project being undertaken by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) since its relocation to its fourth site at Inverleith in 1820. The project aims to conserve plant life for generations to come.
Edinburgh Biomes is central to RBGE’s response to the twin challenges of the biodiversity crisis and climate emergency. In a world where 40% of plant species are estimated to be under threat, our mission has never been more urgent.
The project will protect global plant science and conservation through the restoration of the Garden’s A-listed historic Palm Houses. Built in 1834 and 1856 respectively, the buildings are now in urgent need of repair and restoration to their stonework, metalwork and glass. Part of Scotland’s architectural heritage, they are home to Scotland’s National Living Collection of plants, but their condition has declined over decades, rendering them extremely fragile and at risk.
In addition to the heritage Palm Houses, the restoration programme includes the modernist Front Range and research houses. It will also provide new facilities for cutting edge plant science, accelerating RBGE’s research into plant pests and pathogens.
Edinburgh Biomes will create a new destination within the Garden for visitors, staff and academics from around the world - the creation of a new Glasshouse that will enrich our National Botanic Collection, provide a spectacular visitor experience and inspire the scientists, horticulturists and conservationists of the future.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education, and plant conservation action around the world. In Scotland, its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract more than a million visitors each year. It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “To explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future.”
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