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Thursday, September 07, 2023

UNITE expand student accommodation portfolio in Edinburgh

UNITE, the UK's largest student accommodation provider, has expanded its presence in Scotland by constructing a new-build, 229-room facility next to Edinburgh College of Art, which officially opens this month.

Formally opened on 8 September 2023 by Councillor Chris Wigglesworth from Edinburgh City Council and Professor Ian Howard, Principal of Edinburgh College of Art, the nine-storey Portsborough Court, which extends to around 70,000 sq ft, will be home to 229 students from the College of Art and surrounding Universities, who will live in a mix of traditional flats with three, four and five bedrooms with living kitchen diners, alongside both single and double studios.

The Bristol-based group which has a Scottish office in Edinburgh, now provides high-quality accommodation to nearly 4,000 students in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee, making it Scotland's largest student accommodation provider.

UNITE currently has nine student facilities in Scotland and another two sites are currently planned in Edinburgh with a 59-bedroom studio scheme presently under construction at Carlton Road. In Glasgow, phase two of Blackfriars, UNITE's third student accommodation in Glasgow is underway.

Matthew McAdden, UNITE's Development Managing Director for Scotland said, "UNITE provides a choice of good quality accommodation and hospitality services that are conveniently located for students who want to be close to the buzz of a city. Portsborough Court is an example of accommodation which has a striking façade, fantastic facilities and is close to amenities."

The £7 million building has been constructed on a site that has been vacant for many years, using a steel frame and pre-cast concrete slabs with screed. The main elevation to Lady Lawson Street has stone panels with full-height windows. The floors have been stepped back to reduce their impact to the street and were designed intentionally for occupants to have views of Edinburgh Castle and the Forth.

Edinburgh City Council has commended the property for its design, which is largely glazed to the front and takes advantage of the scenic city views to the Pentland hills.

At street level, there is curtain walling to the retail, common room and reception areas with the principal part of the elevation clad in stone. The stone is set into large 'picture frames' which define the type of accommodation contained within. At either end of the building, the studios contain large areas of glazing which cover an entire wall within the living area of the studios.

The rear of the building is bright render with Trespa cladding panels in charcoal grey and timber.

Although visibly complex for a masonry façade, the individual panels of the elevation have been 'zipped up' with aluminium flashings giving the building a modern, state-of-the art appearance.

The main contractor for Portsborough Court was Carillion.

UNITE has invested over £140 million to provide much needed, quality and affordable accommodation to students in Scotland and is already home to nearly 4,000 students in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee.


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