KPMG Edinburgh

A built environment that expresses core values.

“Our objective is to create a space that both enhances our client interactions and helps us to collaborate, innovate and excel.”

Catherine Burnet, Senior Partner, KPMG Scotland

The Challenge

KPMG wanted an exciting, high-quality collaborative workplace for staff and visitors that reflected their values and ethos. Due to the location of the Saltire Court, the commanding views and excellent transport links KPMG decided to refurbish the space rather than move to a new property.

Through creativity and a simple intuitive design MLA have transformed the way people at KPMG Edinburgh work. Our architectural solution sought to reconnect staff by removing physical barriers, optimise available natural light despite a deep floorplate and maximise the iconic views. All of this had to be delivered whilst KPMG and other tenants remained in occupation.

The Approach

At MLA our approach starts with improving the lives of those who use and invest in the buildings. For KPMG Edinburgh this meant helping them to express their core brand values in an authentic way through the built environment. We approached the challenge as an integrated team working collaboratively with both M+E and AV contractors.

A series of consultative workshops with KPMG’s Edinburgh team helped determine the spaces they needed to live their values and serve clients well. We uncovered the need for spaces that allowed them to collaborate, focus and gather both formally and informally.

Our brief included:

  • Flexible, creative spaces to encourage them to respect the individual, work together and build communities
  • Visible sight lines that help them lead by example, act with integrity and be open and honest in their communication
  • Inspiring places to focus when seeking facts and providing insights

Design Solution

The design concept, Old Town/New Town, was developed collaboratively to encapsulate the working ethos of KPMG. Taking cues from the dramatic Edinburgh townscape, we embraced both the organic, enclosed Old Town and the planned elegance of the New Town. The city is knitted together by the architecture of its rich past and the people of the Scottish Enlightenment provided inspiration. This has a strong correlation with KPMG’s need to collaborate, innovate and excel.

This concept built a community across the two wings that previously felt very divided. The south wing is now the main hot desking area with a rhythm and regularity reminiscent of the New Town representing KPMG’s need for structure, formality, organisation, and to stimulate intellectual thinking.

The north wing embraced an irregularity like the medieval Old Town to encourage innovative thinking reflecting the need for informal, flexible and creative spaces. At the centre a deep tranche of reception space spans the floorplate and echoes the Royal Mile’s long sightlines towards the castle.

Each element of the design has a deeper meaning connected to KPMG’s values and was only achieved by collaborating as an integrated team.


The refurbishment of Saltire Court space is an expression of the city’s rich history and future potential. It is a desirable and stimulating place to work that encourages an agile, intelligent and collaborative workforce. By authentically reflecting KPMG’s values, teamwork and morale have improved to create a desirable place to work.

Clever use of circadian lighting, soft acoustics have created healthy and inspiring desk areas to boost productivity. Whilst influencers from Scottish Enlightenment, have inspired the client areas and newly commissioned artworks. These provide strong talking points that can enhance client interactions.

The new café has prime castle views and was inspired by business lounges rather than canteens. The multi-use space is used throughout the day and is an integral element of building a community within KPMG.

The open, connected spaces are fun, quirky and reflect the locality, but most importantly, they encourage interaction, communication and collaboration.

“We’ve found our new office encourages cohesion between employees and fosters a shared sense of purpose, and is therefore an important tool in shaping the future of our business.”

Catherine Burnet, Senior Partner, KPMG Scotland