Edinburgh Futures Institute officially opens to the public

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Edinburgh Futures Institute has officially opened its doors to the public in the transformed and revitalised Old Royal Infirmary building.

Staff were invited on tours to see the new building and the public was able to have a look as part of the Meadows Festival.

The landmark building officially opened to the public on Monday 3 June following an extensive seven-year, multimillion-pound restoration.

Built in 1879, the Old Royal Infirmary housed the city’s main hospital until 2003 and was once described by The Illustrated London News as ‘the best planned hospital’ in Britain.

Now home to the University’s Edinburgh Futures Institute, the category-A listed building will bring together people to find innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.

The 20,000 sqm redevelopment is now one of the largest institutes for interdisciplinary learning, research and innovation in Europe.

Edinburgh Futures Institute is building on the University’s expertise across disciplines ranging from Artificial Intelligence to philosophy to deliver educational programmes, collaborative research projects and partnerships.

The Institute brings together students, researchers, partners and civic society to focus on the responsible use of data to address global challenges including ethics of Artificial Intelligence, social inequality and climate change.

The building, which unites modern design with restored historic architecture, will also bring benefits to the local community. Alongside new access points from Middle Meadow Walk, a new public square has been created along with a cafe and exhibition and performance spaces.

The building’s signature wide and airy Nightingale Wards have been retained and are now reused as teaching and workspaces.

Collaborative spaces are also available for external organisations and partners, with incubation areas for start-up businesses and labs for innovation and prototyping.

Once opened, the Institute will also host a range of events and opportunities for members of the public and the University community.

In August, the Institute will host the Edinburgh International Book Festival and will become a permanent home for this annual event.

Professor Kev Dhaliwal, Interim Director of Edinburgh Futures Institute, said: “The amazing restoration of the Old Royal Infirmary has created an inspiring place for us all to collaborate. It opens up exciting opportunities to co-locate students, staff and external partners to innovate and address local and global challenges together. The Institute is a place that asks questions and strives to find solutions for the challenges of where data meets society.”

Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “So many people in Edinburgh have a connection to this historic building and we want to ensure that it fulfils the pledge set in stone above the main entrance, ‘patet omnibus’ – open to all. Edinburgh Futures Institute’s new home will allow us to connect the University community with local and global groups, organisations and industries in new and meaningful ways.”

Edinburgh Futures Institute