Deaconess House

Transforming the past, accommodating our future

Hitting new heights: a 19th century hospital was renovated into stylish student accommodation in the heart of the City of Edinburgh, in time for the University of Edinburgh's 2014/15 term.

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Deaconess House Project summary


Mace Real Estate / University of Edinburgh Endowment Fund

Project value


Key partners

Montagu Evans, Brodies, Jones Lang Lasalle, Kalyvides Partnership Architects, Curtins Consulting, Aecom, Graham Construction

Services provided

Property Development, Project and programme management, Cost consultancy, Develop, Consult




UK and Europe, UK North

Project timeline

Start date
End date
August 2014

Project story

Easing the student housing crisis while simultaneously preserving a slice of Scottish history, we worked in tandem with Edinburgh’s esteemed university to develop the former NHS Lothian headquarters into a 318-bed student accommodation scheme.

In 2012 we used our vast project management and construction expertise to acquire Deaconess House. Joining forces with the University of Edinburgh, we made it our mission to construct high-end housing with a nod to the city’s history – capable of attracting students the world over.

With demolition and strip out works taking place at the end of 2012, and build completed by the start of the 2014/15 academic year, this ambitious project combined the former hospital’s Victorian exterior with a cutting edge interior refurbishment.

The original Deaconess Hospital building was joined by three new blocks, arranged around a central courtyard to deliver studio and cluster rooms, sat at the foot of the Salisbury Crags cliffs.

With our comprehensive mix of construction, development and project management expertise, this allowed a single point of contact for the university, and helped further this unique partnership.

Deaconess House Building Exterior - Mace Group

Project stats

318 beds in the new student halls
1 day to negotiate planning agreement

Points of note

Collaborative approach

Upon heads of terms and planning consent being agreed in 2012, we concluded funding and development talks in just three months. This speedy turnaround is a nod to the collaborative approach and shared determination between ourselves and the University of Edinburgh.

Shouldered all risk

Having acquired the NHS Lothian site in 2011, we shouldered all risk of the development’s planning and delivery. With the university determined to obtain the property, we were able to present them with discounted accommodation in the middle of their own campus.

“This is an excellent solution to the demands the university has for quality accommodation in the City of Edinburgh. Mace has created a development that is consistent with the historic surroundings of the city and believes it will set a new quality benchmark for students both in Edinburgh and across the country.”

“Mace has brought us a well thought out deliverable scheme which exactly fits with our future needs, so we are delighted to have a market leading partner on the project to take the turn-key development risk on our behalf.”