Richard Murphy Architects
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Old Fishmarket Close Housing, Edinburgh

Old Fishmarket Close Housing, Edinburgh

This private housing project was won in an invited competition and takes as its starting point and inspiration the famous 1647 aerial map of the Old Town of Edinburgh by James Gordon of Rothiemay. The regular sub division of building fingers of about 7 metres has been reproduced to create two tall thin parallel buildings on a steeply sloping site in the Old Town tradition. Emphasis has been placed on the roofscape which can be viewed either at eye level from the Royal Mile or at high level from the Cowgate. The traditional "roofed rooms" which have largely disappeared from the Old Town are echoed here where the exaggerated roofs house spectacular maisonette flats with double height living spaces. Areas of timber boarding are used at these upper levels echoing the vernacular timber top storeys of the Old Town and lending the buildings scale. The upper gables are largely glazed with a mixture of windows and glass block to give a lantern-like appearance at night.

The two new buildings are separated by a short and vertiginous new close, which forms an extension of the upper part of Old Fishmarket Close joining it to Borthwick Close. Both blocks respond to the height of the adjacent Police and Advocates buildings, with the east block book-ending the lower tenement to its north.

At ground level two external spaces are created by the configuration of blocks: a public space on the north west side and a private garden on the south east side. The staggering of the two blocks helps to address issues of day lighting and privacy in both the new flats and the existing flats in the north west corner of Tron Square. The public space is a level terrace set against the fall of Old Fishmarket Close, serving a cafe, a private garden occupies the other.

In the fall of the site, offices are also slipped under the housing, but a proposal to serve half the apartment kitchens with communal dumb waiters from the cafe kitchen was sadly abandoned by the developer.

The project started on site in October 2002 and was completed in January 2004.

Other Details
Architects Richard Murphy, Graeme Armet (Project Architect), Chris Rhodes
Engineers David Narro Associates
M&E Engineers Cundall Johnston & Partners
Quantity Surveyor Ross & Morton
Planning Supervisor Faber Maunsell
Contractor John Mowlem & Co Ltd
Construction Cost £2.6m
Client Buredi Ltd

2004 Saltire Society Housing Design Award
2005 UK National Homebuilders Association Best Mixed Development Award
2005 Scottish Enterprise Dynamic Place Award Commendation

  • 6 February 2005Quest To Fly Scotland's Housing FlagThe Sunday Times
  • December 2004Home And DryProspect Magazine
  • 21 October 2004Traversing The Great DivideThe Scotsman
  • 11 July 2004Pillars Of WisdomSunday Herald Magazine
  • 10 April 2004Doors To Open At Luxury Old Town PenthousesThe Scotsman
  • 5 March 2004Winning The Regeneration GameThe Scotsman
  • 13 February 2004Building Study - Northern LightsBuilding Design
  • 17 July 2003Square's Revamp Is In The BagEvening News
15 Old Fishmarket Close, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 1RW | Tel 0131 220 6125 |