The new Virgin Hotel in Edinburgh is the first in the UK for the global brand and has overcome a complex array of challenges in its construction over the past four years. The £65m, 222- bedroomed venue sits in the heart of the ancient city- a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Three listed buildings have been merged into a cohesive whole with the addition of new build elements and a suspended glass link bridge.
The build team of ICA Studios (architects), Thomas Johnstone (main contractors) and Emtec (building services) worked closely with the supply chain to deliver the brief. With not a single straight wall to work from within the existing fabric, the specification inevitably had to flex to accommodate almost daily discoveries and problems whilst enhancing as many of the original historic features as possible.
Emtec turned to Britain’s leading independent air movement specialist Gilberts to supply all the ventilation grilles and diffusers to ensure supply and return of air from the variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system to the whole hotel.
A stand-out element has been Gilberts’ GHV double deflection grilles, specially produced in a bronze finish to sit within 200 years-old wood panelled walls.
Gilberts provided a raft of different powder coated finishes to the diverse LG linear bar grilles in the bedrooms. The DG4 louvre faced diffusers, GSF swirl diffusers and GSLS linear slot diffusers utilised to supply the correct ambient conditions throughout the hotel were similarly specified in various colours to reflect the aesthetics required for each area.
Explained Bobby Armstrong, Senior Contracts Manager Building Services @ Emtec, “Virgin as a brand is committed towards sustainability and is committed towards achieving LEED Gold or Silver standards in all of its hotels, hence the choice of VRF to cool and heat the Edinburgh hotel. The main issue for us was choosing grilles and diffusers that complimented and enhanced the building fabric, rather than try to mimic it.
“Gilberts has been fantastic all the way through this technically challenging project, delivering the depth of detail and flexibility required to accommodate delivery of a build that began during the strictest Covid working practices.”
The Virgin Edinburgh is one of a trio of luxury hotels in Scotland’s capital being ventilated by Gilberts, and builds on Gilberts’ proven track record in hospitality and heritage air movement.
Founded some six decades ago, today family-owned Gilberts’ 95,000 sq ft head office and manufacturing facility includes its own research and development and test facilities, enabling it to continue to evolve its product range and develop bespoke solutions for specific client requirements. Gilberts is now acknowledged as the UK’s leading independent air movement specialist, offering mechanical natural and hybrid ventilation distribution solutions.