The Literature House

IMAGINE…a Literature House for Scotland, the centre piece of a literary quarter…a place dedicated to telling our story as a nation built on books…for us to understand and celebrate that story, for our children to discover their part in it.

This is our vision for Edinburgh as the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature and is something we are working to make real.


The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust has selected Stirling Prize winning architectural firm Witherford Watson Mann to lead the next phase of development at the Literature House in Edinburgh. They will be working in partnership with Groves-Raines Architects Studios, who have an outstanding record in conservation, restoration and reuse of historic buildings in Scotland, and with Edinburgh-based Studio MB, a multi-award winning interpretive design agency who work internationally.

This comes following a competitive public procurement process led by RIAS Consultancy.

A Literature House for Scotland

We would like to create a dynamic space where classic design and cutting edge technology tell Scotland’s story of great books and great writers. A place where you can experience an evolving, immersive exhibition – its data-driven wizardry set amongst the painted beams and flagstones of John Knox House, one of Scotland’s most important medieval buildings.

Edinburgh's Literary Quarter

We see Scotland’s new Literature House as part of a thriving literary quarter at Edinburgh’s Netherbow on the Royal Mile. It would be a honeycomb of closes, gardens and streets with year-round events, exhibitions and interactive learning. All of this would be centred around Scotland’s new Literature House at John Knox House, next door to the award-winning Scottish Storytelling Centre, the world’s first purpose built modern centre sharing live storytelling on the capital’s Royal Mile since 2006.


Working Together

In 2004 we worked with partners to secure Edinburgh’s title as a UNESCO City of Literature. Today we are working with partners to transform how we tell Scotland’s story as a literary nation and how we support Scotland’s literary community, and to realise our ambition of creating a Literature House for Scotland, a Litreachas Hoose, an Taigh Litreachais.

Space and Place
Image is not available
Image is not available
Space and Place


The Literary Quarter and The Literature House bring together an unusual mix of spaces: closes, gardens, courtyards, streetscape, 99-seat theatre, workshop rooms, indoor performance/exhibition space, café, bookshop and six rooms within the current John Knox House Museum (period domestic setting).

Our writers have changed the World

Scotland has a wonderful story to tell – of men and women, past and present – and we need to tell it.
In the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature we have more statues to animals than to women writers. Our Edinburgh’s Writers’ Museum is lovely but is dedicated to just three men.
Scotland’s literary story is so much more than this; it is a brilliant and breathtaking tale of writers and books that have changed the world, of inspiring ideas and incredible men and women.

Space and Place
Image is not available
Image is not available
Did You Know ?


Nine Netherbow facts to make your jaw drop

The Netherbow is the area around John Knox House (JKH) and its adjoining building, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and it was the old gateway into the city. In this place, Edinburgh’s story has taken shape across the centuries.