Portobello Station


Architectural Design (University)

My final design project at Edinburgh University aimed to explore the relationship between land and sea, where Edinburgh meets the ocean at the historical Portobello beach.

We were asked to explore the built environment in Portobello, studying it through a particular lens and developing a catalogue of our results. I, with a group of two others, assessed Portobello in terms of movement and how the movement today compares with that in the town’s heyday, when tourists flocked to the beach from far and wide.

By using historical maps and studying movement through a series of time lapsed videos, we gained a better understanding of how the public realm is used today in comparison to one hundred years ago. We established that several modes of transportation no longer exist, notably the tram line and railway station. I felt like there was a real need for Portobello to reconnect itself to the wider country and so my investigations led me to propose the reinstatement of Portobello Station. Not only would this ease the commute for the large commuter population in Porty, it would also facilitate the movement of tourists back to the waterfront. Working alongside my group, we proposed a lengthy axis of architectural interventions. This was to start at the south of Brighton Place, with the new railway station and observation tower then continue to the High Street, where my teammate proposed a substantial reworking of the Town Hall to make it more inclusive and a centre point for the town. Finally, an intervention at the waterfront would give tourists the opportunity to walk out into the water in a creative piece of architecture.

My station is situated on the south-western boundary of Portobello, where the entrance is marked to the town by a railway bridge. Investigations revealed this to be the original location of the station that was shuttered in the 20th century as a cost saving exercise. I investigated the makeup of the bridge and studied the former entrance to the island station. A tunnel and staircase took travellers from Brighton Place under the tracks to the station. This investigation helped to form the plan of my building.

The completed design sees the station take on the role as both a transport interchange and an outlook tower. It’s tall geometric form creates a new landmark for Porty marking the entrance point and producing a glowing beacon to be seen from neighbouring Edinburgh. At Brighton Place level a cafĂ© is available. Travellers then proceed through a tunnel and up an escalator to the island platform beneath a folded canopy. The station also forms a circulation route from the dual carriageway above. Here, bus and taxis can drop off passengers to use the outlook point or the station below.

The station is concrete framework and clad in a gradiented brick, perforated in places to allow light to spill outwards. This is a nod to the many brick chimneys that once stood in Portobello and the role of the town in producing bricks. The precedent of Herzog de Meuron’s Tate Modern extension was studied.

This final project allowed me to really engage in the real world by studying how a piece of architecture could not only form a practical solution to problems with congestion and commuting but also create a landmark that would draw in tourists to a intriguing historical waterfront location. It allowed me to use for four years of studying to propose a building that is developed in both concept and technical design. Most importantly it allowed my degree to end on a project that summed up my purpose for studying architecture; to give new life back to areas that need; to give communities a new sense of belonging.


  • Site surveying and investigation
  • Video capture and editing (inc. time lapse)
  • Concept design
  • Technical design (construction details)
  • Model making
  • Visualisation

Software used:

  • Adobe After Effects
  • Adobe Premier Pro
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Sketchup
  • AutoCAD
  • V-Ray Renderer

Land to sea
Historical Mapping
Movement photographic study
Historical isometric map
Brighton Place Elevation
Ground Floor Plan
Station rear entrance
Platform and canopy detail
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