Construction has started of an exciting new visitor facility at the West Gate of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The centre – due to open in 2009 – is set to be a shining example of green construction and sustainability and will sit on the footprint of the former Botanics Shop. The photograph from inside the garden shows that work is now well under way.

The aim of the new facility is to offer visitors unrivalled opportunity to discover the world of plants and the scientific work of the Botanics through an ambitious set of interactive experiences and activities. With the involvement of partners in science and conservation, it will provide a unique window on biodiversity in Scotland and will have the capacity to offer live engagement with RBGE specialists who work in more than 40 countries around the world. A Biodiversity Garden will provide habitats for a variety of wildlife and blend into the wider Botanics setting. The building will also house other top-class facilities including a restaurant, improved shop and education rooms to further advance the facilities already offered on site.

As a popular free visitor attraction the Garden – which already attracts more than 600,000 children and adults each year – expects to attract a number of new audiences to the visitor centre through a complementary tailored suite of activities and events, adding to the 700 events currently run annually. RBGE’s Gateway Liaison Officer Chris Minty has explained: ‘One of the primary roles of this building will be to enhance communication between the world of science and the public at large. We aim to engage individuals more actively with key issues such as conservation and biodiversity’.

The £15.7 million capital development attracted funding from the Scottish Government (£10 million) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (£3.2 million), as well as more than £2 million from a number of companies, trusts and individuals.

During construction visitors to the Garden should be aware that the West Gate is closed. Public access is through the existing East Gate, on Inverleith Row, and a temporary entrance, the North Gate, on Inverleith Place.

To find out more about The Gateway visit