The Patrick Geddes Centre

The Patrick Geddes Centre will be a world-class centre for learning. A place steeped in history, culture and architectural wonder; providing community, conference and event space.

Inspired by Geddes' educational philosophy, the Centre will foster learning through 'Hand, Heart and Head', learning by 'doing'.

The centre will be at the heart of the painstakingly conserved 16th century Riddle's Court in Edinburgh's Old Town.

Heritage Lottery Fund

Help us to lovingly restore Riddle's court and raise the last 1% of funding needed


Every donation makes a difference
no matter how great or small

or download our donation form

Patrick Geddes

(1854 – 1932)

Educator, conservationist, town planner, philosopher, sociologist, biologist, botanist, and ecologist.

Patrick Geddes

An inspiring visionary

Patrick Geddes was born in Ballater, Scotland. He was a man of diverse interests and skills whose concern for places in which people lived and worked led to his pioneering work in education, conservation, town planning and social science. His innovative thinking has influenced how we view our environment and our place in it, both in Scotland and across the world.

Examples of his work in Edinburgh include using the Camera Obscura to get a broader perspective of the city, designing Edinburgh Zoo and creating Ramsay Gardens. In India Geddes revolutionised town planning to make places more liveable in Indore, New Delhi and Calcutta. In his later years in France, he was the founder of the Montpelier Scots College.

As inspiration for our modern times, his legacy will live on in the work of the Patrick Geddes Centre. His ideas about the interconnected-ness of the world and learning are still as relevant today as they were in his own time, perhaps even more so.

Geddes' university hall dining room ceiling
"Think global, act local"
Patrick Geddes

An architectural delight

Riddle's Court

One of the most important buildings both historically and architecturally in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Hidden behind Edinburgh's Royal Mile, this courtyard house has seen a rich and colourful past and many changes.

The building has hosted merchants, Kings, paupers, philosophers, educators and even actors. Each has left their mark either in the interiors, or in the spiritual fabric of this special place.

Featuring many beautiful decorated ceilings and interiors that document its use over 400 years, careful restoration and interpretation is bringing these spaces back to their former glory so they can be enjoyed for the next 400 years.

The connection with learning and Patrick Geddes dates to the late 1800s when he founded one of the first university halls and ran summer schools here. His motto 'Vivendo Discimus' (by living we learn) can still be seen chiselled above the archway leading into the inner courtyard.

Riddle's Court seen from Victoria Street
Ceiling created for the banquet of James VI
"A city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time"
Patrick Geddes