How redundant red phone boxes will be transformed into offices

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TWO unused red phone boxes in the heart of Edinburgh are getting a new lease of life as mini offices – and thousands more are to be created across the UK.

The redundant BT boxes just off the Royal Mile offer a printer, scanner, high-speed internet and power sockets – all within a bijou 1.2sq/m.

Air fresheners, heaters and locks should also help transform the iconic boxes from relics of yesteryear to tools of modern commerce.

The mini-offices will be available to anyone prepared to pay £20 a month in return for about an hour a day.

The boxes, accessible by keypad, will even have a timer to show how much time users have left.

The phone boxes, on George IV Bridge, opposite the National Library of Scotland, are the subject of a detailed ‘Change of Use’ application submitted to Edinburgh City Council last week.

Image: Miles Broe Architecture

Miles Broe, the architect behind the plans, said: ““The concept of a public telephone box is now outdated as the majority of people own a mobile phone.

“The proposed new use maintains their iconic appearance but re-invents their use to suit the 21st century.

“This is an economic slant on conservation. The phone box looks as it should but the kiosk is reused in a modern idiom.

“Anyone could use them, students, people on the move, business people.”

Neil Scoresby, the head of payphones for BT, said: “The expansion of the mobile telephone network will make an increasing number of our boxes redundant.

Image: Miles Broe Architecture

“We’re working hard to keep our payphones relevant and put them to new uses such as sites for mobile cells and ATMs, internet hubs and advertising.

“The scheme means communities can keep a local landmark that may have outlived its original purpose but now has the chance of a new role in local life.”

Previously, former BT phone boxes have been reused for numerous purposes.

Back in 2012, a phonebox in County Durham was converted into an art gallery by local artist John Hay.

In 2014, a booth in Lewisham, London, was converted into what was thought to be the city’s smallest library.

Sebastian Handley, 45, put up eight shelves in the booth, containing 200 books.

 
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