Bobby Niven: Palm House, 2017

Bobby Niven: Palm House. Photo by Johnny Barrington 

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Bobby Niven is one of the founding initiators of the Bothy Project, a growing network of small shelters across Scotland (and soon, further afield). Designed in collaboration with artists, architects, and designers, each of these simple structures is a unique response to the landscape which houses it, and an invitation to artists to spend time ‘off-grid’ exploring the environment and histories which hold them.

For The Making of the Future, Niven brought together his own individual sculptural practice with his concept developed for The Bothy Project, to create a temporary studio workshop within the Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden. Nestling in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle and today managed as an urban wildlife reserve, Johnston Terrace was first established as a community garden at the end of the nineteenth century, as part of a network of green spaces which Geddes developed in Edinburgh’s Old Town, to bring much needed light, air and contact with nature into the lives of Old Town residents.

Inspired by the ideas of Patrick Geddes, and by the artist's research into the history of the Palm Houses of Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens, Niven’s studio structure incorporates hand-carved anthropomorphic sculptural elements into a timber framed transparent structure. Accompanied by a hand-made mud oven, the project is conceived as a social sculpture, a space for production, and for sharing and exchanging conversation, plants, cooking, food and other activities that collectively invite exploration of the particular context and value of this oasis of urban wildlife.

Supported by the Scottish Government Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, EventScotland with additional support from Baillie Gifford Investment Managers and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Bobby Niven discusses Palm House 

Garden Residencies:
Over the course of the 2017 Festival, the following 4 artists each undertook a week-long residency in Niven’s studio-workshop, exploring ideas relating to the site, the structure and the wider ideas of Patrick Geddes himself.

Neil Bickerton
Alison Scott
Daisy Lafarge
Deirdre Nelson


All year round (on request)

Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden is open to members of the general public on request.
Please contact Scottish Wildlife Trust for more information.


Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden
Patrick Geddes Steps/Castle Wynd South,
Edinburgh, EH1 2PW