Murphy House is a contemporary house within the World Heritage Site of Edinburgh New Town. Designed by Richard Murphy for his own use. Location The house occupies a modest floor area, approximately half of a garden in the open space between the back of houses on Forth Street and the gable end of houses on Hart St.
The house occupies a modest floor area, approximately half of a garden in the open space between the back of houses on Forth Street and the gable end of houses on Hart St. The junction between these two streets is an unplanned part of the New Town where two estates meet, with an unsightly gable end to the west side of Hart Street. The design needed to resolve the issues of space, become a ‘bookend’ to the gable end and allow contemporary design within a World Heritage Site, with its front façade continuing the stonework pattern of the adjacent street façades.
“I had the highly unusual experience of test driving two of my own designs; trying out ideas as well as designing in some detail. Many themes in these previous three projects were developed into the Hart Street design. All four projects squeeze significant amounts of accommodation onto very restricted sites and all increase the feeling of space through the use of complex sections and occasionally tricks with mirrors. The mews houses were restricted by a 5 x 8m footprint and their existing sectional envelope. Hart Street is a little bigger with an 11 x 6m footprint developed with four stories and nine levels and containing three bedrooms, three shower rooms, a living/dining/kitchen area at varying levels, study, reception hall, basement plant and storage, garage, utility room and roof terrace.
“A Rubik’s cube” was how the Australian architect Glenn Murcutt who lodged in the house for the RSA 2015 Metzstein Discourse described it. All four projects responded to their highly particular historic contexts, not least at Hart Street where the site straddles the unresolved junction of two contiguous estates which each developed in the 1820’s simultaneously but seemingly without much coordination. The unique circumstances of this piece of New Town mis-planning became the springboard for the entire design. The adjacent tenement gable end should never have been exposed nor should it have been extended upwards in the 1960’s and the new house deliberately responds by building high to becoming a book-end to it; it both hides the gable and attempts to conclude the façade.” – Richard Murphy
“It makes great use of a small site, creating a delightful private outdoor space on the first floor, with light brought in through the roof, and a seemingly endless number of surprising spaces. It is a house that responds to the Scottish climate, opening up to the summer sun and then shutting itself down to create a snug refuge in the depth of winter. Sliding doors pull out of walls and roof shutters drop into place transforming the house from a light-filled space open to the exterior terrace, to an enclosed room, where candlelight wouldn’t seem out of place. It does all this with wit and style, in an architecture that Murphy has honed over the years to make distinct and personal. It feels an intense and personal space, playful and inventive, each corner revealing something new.” – Comment / RIBA House of the Year
Richard Murphy Architects:
This is a house designed for Richard Murphy himself. It occupies approximately half of an existing garden in the open space between the back of houses on Forth Street and the gable end of houses on Hart St in the New Town of Edinburgh. The junction between these two streets is clearly an unplanned part of the New Town sitting at the point of contact where two estates that developed simultaneously met. In addition, an extra floor added at some time in the twentieth century to the west side of Hart Street has resulted in an unsightly gable end.
The house sets out to achieve a number of architectural ambitions. Firstly it acts as a ‘bookend’ to the above mentioned gable, hiding as much of it as possible. The elevational treatment continues the pattern set up by the Hart Street houses of an indented ashlar base, string courses and a significant cornice which is now terminated by becoming the roof edge of a dramatic sloping roof. This roof made mostly of glass with inset photovoltaic cells is designed both to ensure daylight to the adjacent basement flat on Forth Street and also to act as a major collector of solar energy.
Inside the roof are a number of insulated shutters which are capable of closing when the roof is in net heat loss mode and opening when there is a net heat gain. In addition the photovoltaic cells power an industrial fan which draws air from the very top of the house to the semi basement to both counter the stack effect but also to store heat in a rock store placed in the solum for night time heating. The external form of the house is completed by a garage with a small roof terrace above.
Internally an interlocking section places the living/dining and kitchen on the first floor with the master bedroom at the apex of the section capable of opening up and closing to the living space. A study sits between entrance hall and living room and a bedroom is placed on the ground floor and a further bedroom in a semi basement.
Project name: Casa Corallo
Location: Hart St, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 3RN, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 55.958071, -3.187658
- Type By Characteristic: Architects House, Renovation / Expansion / Extension : House
- Type By Site: City / Town House
- Type By Size: Small House – (51 sqm – 200 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Stone House
Project area: 165 sqm
Construction Period: July 2012 – December 2014
Completion Year: 2015
Client / Owner / Developer: Richard Murphy
- Richard Murphy Architects – 15 Old Fishmarket Close, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 1RW, United Kingdom
- Richard Murphy, Gareth Jones, James Falconer, Tersius Maass
Project Architect: Richard Murphy
Main Contractor: Inscape Joinery ltd
- Structural Engineer: Create Engineering
- Electrics: Clamate Electrical
- Plumbing: Eco-Coil & HPG Solutions
- Lighting Consultant: Scott Kelly
- Colour Consultant: Linda Green
- Plastering: Stuart Mcneil
- Lead Plumbing: Blakes ltd
- Form of contract and/or Procurement: unorthodox
- M&E Consultant: Max Fordham
- Quantity Surveyor: McLeod and Aitken
- Steelwork: Bow engineering
- Heating: Ecocoil
- Air Circulation: Campbell Controls
Text Description: © Courtesy of Richard Murphy Architects
Images: © Richard Murphy Architects, Keith Hunter