Tron Kirk

Oliver Chapman Architects, Edinburgh, 2019


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A well-known landmark on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the Tron Kirk has acted as a backdrop for many a Hogmanay celebration and Fringe event since it closed its doors as a place of worship in 1952

Since 2018, the interior of the Kirk has been reorganised as a new visitor orientation and information space for Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, with supporting retail and a ticket sales point for local heritage attractions. The majority of the footprint has been dedicated to a new exhibition providing information on Scotland’s World Heritage sites, as well as raising awareness of the conservation challenges within these sites – including the Category A-listed Tron Kirk itself.

Sensitive upgrades were carried out to ensure that the historic building met with modern requirements, and an entrance porch was installed to the main entrance off the Royal Mile, offering a new threshold to the iconic space. Comprised of an interlinked lattice of laminated plywood beams, the design of the lobby structure is a contemporary response to the building’s 17th century hammerbeam roof. Recessed lighting within the deep ceiling coffers creates a subtle checkerboard effect, inviting passers-by to step inside – upon entering, the volume of the internal space with its ornately-crafted roof is gradually revealed.

The new structure has been inserted directly beneath the clock tower; this position would originally have been occupied by the pulpit, and the ends of the structural beams of the lobby roof are tucked within residual pockets left in the masonry walls, thereby avoiding any fixings to the Category A-listed building.

Doors leading from the entrance lobby into the main volume of the building are located to either side rather than straight ahead, establishing a circulatory route and providing a modern interpretation of the entrance vestibule, or narthex, common to many church buildings of the time.

Photography by Angus Bremner


  • Begun: Jul 2018
  • Completed: Mar 2019
  • Sector: Religious
  • Total cost: £48,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Jun 2018
  • Procurement: SBCC Minor Works
  • Address: Tron Kirk, 122 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SG, United Kingdom

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