Residents and artists breathe new life into Edinburgh’s historic closes

Edinburgh World Heritage has announced the completion of the first batch of its Twelve Closes Project. Edinburgh’s closes, the narrow, often steep alleyways branching off from the Royal Mile, are an important characteristic of the Old Town, and a reminder of the city’s medieval origins. However, Edinburgh’s closes are often perceived as being unclean and unsafe, particularly at night.   This innovative co-design project aims to renew and reinterpret some of Edinburgh’s most historic closes, creating safer and more attractive spaces for residents, businesses and tourists to explore. 

The project partnership between Edinburgh World Heritage and the City of Edinburgh Council, working with Edinburgh Napier University, has sought to tackle local problems such as anti-social behaviour through alternative forms of street lighting; brightening and enhancing the historic alleyways. This has been achieved by bringing together members of the local community and enabling participation in the design process, supporting them in selecting themes and historic stories to interpret and present.  The first batch has seen the completion of new lighting, art installations and interpretation panels in Carrubber’s Close, Chessel’s Court and Stevenlaw’s Close as well new lighting for the community-led interpretive art project in Pirrie’s Close.

Fiona Rankin, Edinburgh World Heritage Project Manager, commented:  “It is fantastic that each of these closes have been transformed by working in partnership with local communities and we are delighted with the finished result. The co-design process has empowered communities to tell their stories, and the alternative way of lighting historic streets complements the heritage, and will encourage more people to get out and explore the Old Town.”

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