The Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland

Roz Barr Architects, Edinburgh, 2016


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Cast plaster plaque to the vestibule entrance 

John MacLean (website)     Download Original

  • Cast plaster plaque to the vestibule entrance    
  • Interior elevation of the vestibule at QNIS    
  • Interior elevation of the vestibule    
  • Interior view of the vestibule    
  • Main entrance to QNIS    
  • Cast plaster plaque    
  • Circular window detail    
  • Main entrance to QNIS    
  • Location Plan    
  • Proposed Elevations    
  • Proposed Sections of the vestibule    
  • Proposed Entrance Plan    
  • Proposed Details    

New entrance vestibule to Sir James Gowan’s ‘Pineapple Tenement’ for the Queen’s Nursing Institute of Scotland in Edinburgh

In 2015, Roz Barr was commissioned to design an entrance vestibule for the headquarters of the Queen’s Nursing Institute of Scotland (QNIS) in Edinburgh. Barr had been in contact with the QNIS following her mother’s death in 2014, and felt moved to commemorate her life with a contribution that honoured her dedication to the institution. 

The QNIS headquarters are located in a tenement on Castle Terrace, designed by Sir James Gowan and completed in 1870.  Known as 'the Pineapple Tenement' due to its eccentric turrets, the building is beautifully crafted with crisp stone detailing and an elegantly ordered facade.  

Inspired by this pure and geometric ordering, the vestibule is a pure white structure that frames the available natural light and commemorative plaque. The design aims to celebrate Gowan’s beautiful tenement while creating a symbolic structure that offers a moment of purity, pause, and beauty upon arrival at the institution. The proportions of the new vestibule and its sculpted plaster soffit were carefully considered in response to the existing entranceway and reinstated fan light. 

Formed of plaster and framed in brass, the commemorative plaque was cast in Roz Barr Architects' studio following a process of testing and crafting that evolved through a desire for a materiality that suggested permanence and purity. The recessed words of Florence Nightingale’s famous mission statement are expressed in gold leaf, and the plaque occupies the central element within the glazed entrance screen.

A maquette of Florence Nightingale from the archive of the institution is balanced on a slender bracket that will form the ‘celebration wall’ commemorating former Queen’s nurses.

Whilst on the one hand this is a very personal project, it also demonstrates how a contemporary installation can respond to a historic setting and celebrate tradition - in this case, Gowan’s tenement and the values of this great institution respectively.


  • Begun: Feb 2016
  • Completed: Apr 2016
  • Floor area: 3m2
  • Sector: Healthcare
  • Total cost: £30,000
  • Funding: N/A
  • Tender date: Sep 2015
  • Procurement: N/A
  • Address: 1 Castle Terrace , Edinburgh, EH1 2EL, United Kingdom

Professional Team