Hidden Door goes hexagonal for 2023

Nov 24 2022 | By More

Pop-up festival to take over “Tardis”-like Scottish Widows complex

Hidden Door is to take over the A-listed former Scottish Widows complex at 15 Dalkeith Road for a five-day immersive event running from 31 May to 4 June 2023.

The building, opposite the Commonwealth Pool, was designed in 1970-71 by the architectural practice of Sir Basil Spence, Glover & Ferguson. Completed in 1976, the six acre complex of hexagonal shapes is no less iconic that Hidden Door’s previous take-over at the Royal High School on Calton Hill.

Scottish Widow from the air. Pic: James Duncan

Hidden Door say that 15 Dalkeith Road will provide the perfect blank canvas for the 2023 event, for which it is planning something a little different.

The maze of office and utility spaces in the six-acre site will host an “incredible immersive event” bringing together a whole range of art forms, including visual art, music, dance, and spoken word.

A series of ambitious collaborative projects produced by Hidden Door will see artists and performers from different disciplines working together to transform the vast interior.

Audiences will be invited to journey deep into the building to seek out the performances and explore the artworks. The full programme will be announced early next year, with a call for visual artists, dancers, musicians and spoken word performers to get involved.

‘Tardis’ quality

David Martin, Creative Director of Hidden Door, said: “This is the sort of building I’ve always dreamed about taking over for Hidden Door.

“It has a sort of ‘Tardis’ quality – although it does look pretty big from the outside, nothing quite prepares you for the expanse of spaces on the inside – you really could get lost in there!”

The Canteen space in Scottish Widows. Pic: Chris Scott

Martin continues: “Every time we consider an empty building in Edinburgh we ask ourselves what we could do with it, and this one presents us with the opportunity to do something quite different.

“We will commission a series of projects that will see artists working with musicians, dancers, set designers, lighting artists and sound designers, all creating a series of experiential theatrical environments throughout the building for our audience to discover.

“We really are aiming for high impact next year!”

The site was abandoned as an office building in 2020. After consultation, there is currently a planning application with the council for “Selective demolition, adaptation, extension and upgrading of Class 4 office building, demolition of car park and ancillary buildings and proposed development of residential accommodation with associated landscaping, parking and infrastructure.”

Open plan offices at Scottish Widows. Pic: Karen Patel

Rebecca Gates, Head of UK Asset Management, Schroders Capital’s Real Estate team said: “Ahead of looking to breathe new life into this very important building, we are delighted to support Hidden Door Festival’s wonderful proposals to transform the vacant space into a temporary cultural arts venue which can be enjoyed by the public.”

A limited release of Early Bird Tickets for Hidden Door 2023 are now available via hiddendoorarts.org/tickets or from Citizen Ticket. Once the full programme is announced, ticket holders will be able to select which days they would like to attend.


Hidden Door 2023
Former Scottish Widows complex at 15 Dalkeith Road.
31 May – 4 June 2023.
Programme to be announced in early 2023.
Tickets and details: Book here.


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