Filmhouse has been at the centre of Edinburgh’s cultural landscape for more than 40 years. As well as a year-round programme of inspiring films, creative learning, special events and partnership working, Filmhouse is home to the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), hosts more than 20 other film festivals, and plays a key role in promoting a vibrant and successful film and moving image industry and culture across Scotland.   

Our vision is to create an internationally significant, fully accessible and environmentally sustainable landmark home for film and screen culture, providing unrivalled spaces and facilities for everyone to watch, make and learn about film and filmmaking in all its diversity.  Crucially this building is primarily for the people of Edinburgh, providing year round access to the very best in cinema from across the world and associated learning opportunities in a welcoming and inspiring environment. Whilst we urgently need fit for purpose facilities, the building design and activities taking place inside will continue to reflect the identity, ethos, values and independence of spirit and programming that is so valued in our current Filmhouse.

To do this, we are embarking on an ambitious new project, developing plans for a purpose-built new Filmhouse on Festival Square in Edinburgh, designed by Richard Murphy Architects. The project is currently in a pre-planning application consultation phase to gauge support and input on our plans. We hope to be in a position to submit a full planning application in August 2020 and if successful to launch a major fundraising campaign in Spring 2021.  

Full colour image of the new building, at dusk


The oculus design reflects the eye on the world that Filmhouse, EIFF and the myriad of festivals, events and learning opportunities the building will provide, whilst also providing a striking addition to Edinburgh’s architectural landscape. Its position in Festival Square is designed to be the catalyst that brings to life an underwhelming and underused public space.

The new building will significantly improve and increase the quality and quantity of spaces needed by Filmhouse and EIFF, housing all of our activity under one roof.  Equally importantly, it will create a hub for Edinburgh’s film and broader cultural community to base themselves and be a focal point for Edinburgh’s citizens to learn about film, all set within a thriving venue. The proposed development will benefit Edinburgh’s residents and its creative and cultural sector.  

The new building will allow us to operate a more successful and  efficient business model in the future, helping to secure Filmhouse’s future for generations to come.  

The new Filmhouse will: 

  • Provide six new cinema screens allowing us to programme even more great films, festivals and partnership events. 

  • Improve our audience experience with a world-class venue that is fully accessible for all, with comfortable seating and state-of-the-art facilities. 

  • Continue to screen film on all formats, including 4K digital, and 16mm, 35mm and 70mm film. 

  • Ensure accessibility for all, with a commitment that all public and office spaces are fully accessible for audiences, staff and guests. 

  • Increase our education and outreach activity, with dedicated education spaces to host year-round activity for learners of all ages. 

  • House Filmhouse’s award-winning Café Bar, which will be designed to retain the intimate and safe atmosphere of the existing space. 

  • Create a brand-new Festival Centre to house EIFF and other festivals and special events year-round. 

  • Introduce a new Cultural Industries hub, supporting the Scottish screen sector with much-needed flexible workspace in Edinburgh’s city centre. 

  • Create a restaurant and rooftop space to enhance and expand our current food and drink offering, and offer new space for special events.

  • Keep Filmhouse’s iconic character and atmosphere, in a new building that has been thoughtfully designed to represent its independent spirit and ethos. 

  • We're aiming to ensure that the operation of the building is as close to carbon neutral as it can be.

  • Increase our financial sustainability, by creating greater capacity, diversifying sources of income generation, and becoming more self-sufficient over the longer term. 

Our audiences are at the very heart of what we do and in designing this new building we have considered everything we know you value: our location, our atmosphere, our diversity of programme, and the education and learning activities we deliver,  as well as continuing to provide great locally sourced food and drink in our Café Bar and a safe and comfortable space for people to gather. Most importantly, these will all be delivered to contemporary standards of access and comfort. 



NEXT: Plans & Principles